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Waste and Emissions»The air in there

»Wednesday, March 24,2010

Air pollution levels in homes are often two to five times higher than outdoors, but you can improve the health of your home with these 14 strategies.

Three-year-olds and cleaning products don't seem like such a good mix. But Jennifer Colletti of Minneapolis has no problem with her son, Beckett, hanging around as she whips up a homemade cleaning solution with ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

For the health of her family, Colletti has ditched harsh chemical cleaners for natural solutions. "There's such a difference in how many chemicals are in our world today versus when I was a kid," Colletti said. As a yoga teacher who holds classes for people dealing with infertility, she's well aware of the connection between chemicals and health problems. "I want my son to grow up without all this coming into his body," she said.

Colletti is one of a growing number of people choosing to create healthier homes. And as consumers make more deliberate, health-conscious choices, retailers that specialize in healthier options are experiencing steady growth. Business at Linden Hills Natural Home, for example, has grown by nearly 80 percent in the past four years.

And these aren't just tree-hugging, health-nut hippies making zealous choices. There's solid scientific support behind the need to think more carefully about what's in our homes. Air pollution levels in homes are often two to five times higher than outdoors, according to Environmental Protection Agency studies. "Poor indoor air quality can lead to eye irritation, headaches, allergies and respiratory problems such as asthma, and other serious health problems," the EPA said.

One big class of culprits is volatile organic compounds, known as VOCs, which are commonly released into the air by carpet, upholstery fabric, air fresheners, cleaning products and paint. Long-term exposure to high levels of VOCs increases your risk for cancer, liver damage, kidney damage and central nervous system damage, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.






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