10 Ways to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home (Do You Have SBS?)

Air purity picture

Ever heard of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS), or Building Related Illness (BRI)? I hadn’t either until recently.

The Environmental Protection Agency knows about it, and there’s a lot of scary research out there pointing to the detrimental effects of spending so much time in toxic buildings. They’ve even released a guide to help you improve indoor air quality.

Did you know there’s nearly a 1 in 3 chance you could be suffering from sick building syndrome if you work in an office?

SBS is defined as a combination of the following symptoms: headache, mucous membrane irritation, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue. It must also exclude the presence of any other illness. [i]

Polluted indoor air has also been associated with specific illnesses such as:

  • Asthma,
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
  • Headaches,
  • Eye and throat irritation,
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath.[ii]

While most of these studies have targeted workplace environments, many of the same building products are used in our homes. 

Consider this: 

The average adult takes between 17,280 and 28,880 breaths every day. Each breath may not be significant, but over the course of days, weeks, and months it can make a big difference.

Compounding Effects of Air Quality

It’s becoming a well-known fact in the medical community that the single biggest thing you can do for your health is never to start smoking, or to quit ASAP. And smoking is little more than a voluntary inhalation of concentrated toxic air.

It’s a safe bet that involuntary inhalation of mildly toxic air over time has a huge impact too.

The effects of polluted or clean air compound over time, much like money invested into a 401k. Compound interest is one of the most powerful forces in the financial world, and the compounded effects of breathing pure air are one of the most powerful forces in your own health and wellness.

And although we rarely control the air quality of our street, city, or workplace, we have 100% control of the air in our homes.

Considering most people spend at least 8-12+ hours at home each day, the air we breathe during that time could have big health consequences.

Here’s what you can do about it:

1.    Open your windows

  • If you don’t live next to a busy street or in a polluted city, one of the best things you can do is ventilate your home with fresh, oxygen-rich air – out with the bad, in with the good!

2.    Get rid of all artificial scents

  • Artificial odors of any kind are basically a cocktail of toxins and endocrine disruptors that trick us into thinking they smell good. This includes all paraffin candles, air fresheners, and scented sprays. Get rid of them.

3.    HEPA filter

  • A good HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorption) air filter will remove larger particles such as mold, pet dander, smoke, dust mites and many other potential allergens.

4.    Beeswax candles

  • Beeswax candles fill the air with negative ions that bind to toxic substances and remove them from the air. Make sure it’s 100% pure beeswax since many are mixed with paraffin wax which may have the opposite effect. Although they are a little more expensive up front, they typically have a much longer burn time than paraffin candles.

5.    Indoor plants

  • Air purity is only one of the many benefits of indoor plants. Plants do a fantastic job of ridding the air of formaldehyde, benzenes, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and other harmful toxins. Plants also have many mood-boosting qualities, and create a rejuvenating atmosphere to your home. Studies from NASA even demonstrate specific plants that are very efficient at purifying the air. 

6.    Boil water on the stove

  • Steam creates both humidity and negative ions which help to rid the air of toxins.
  • Bonus tip: if you accidentally overcooked the bacon and your kitchen is full of smoke, bring a large pot of water to a boil for 15+ minutes. It will quickly clear out the smell of smoke.

7.    Turn on the shower

  • Waterfalls (and the ocean…) are nature’s source of negative ions. But a shower will have the same effect and provide the air in your home with a surge of negative ions! The water particles crashing against the sides of your tub aren’t exactly as majestic as Niagra Falls, but they’ll get the job done. This also gives you another legitimate excuse to take a long, hot shower every day!

8.    Indoor fountain

  • Same effect as #7, but it will look better and give you +1 Feng Shui points…if there was such a thing.

9.    Salt lamp

  • Salt Lamps emit a pleasant glow and are an aesthetically appealing way to generate negative ions. They generally last a long time and require very little upkeep.

10. Bamboo charcoal

  • These small charcoal bags are eco-friendly and absorb unwanted odors and toxins. A terrific, economical way to get rid of uninvited chemicals in your home.

So there you have it! Do you use any of these methods to improve the air quality in your home? If not, what methods will you start using in the upcoming week? I’d love to hear your comments and questions!


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