Addressing Indoor Air Pollution


As athletes, we tend to think of air pollution as more of an outdoor concern, but the air in your home or office can also be  be polluted--by formaldehyde (found in furniture and many common wood products including paper bags, waxed paper, and paper towels), trichloroethylene (found in upholstery and other fabrics) and xylene (from caulks, glues, floor polish, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and car exhaust). Other common sources of indoor pollutants include mold and pollen, tobacco smoke, and gasses including radon and carbon monoxide.

Typically, indoor air quality issues cause temporary discomfort. The symptoms most women experience are relieved as soon as the offending source of pollution is removed. However, some pollutants can cause latent or long-term issues, like respiratory disease, that take months or years to develop.

While it’s not realistic to think that we can completely control or entirely eliminate all of the  environmental toxins we’re routinely exposed to, there are some relatively inexpensive, effective, and all-natural solutions that can be used to improve indoor air quality. Start by filling your house with some air-cleaning plants.

As an outdoor species, English ivy is invasive and can be destructive. But this fast-growing vine behaves much better indoors, helping to clean the air. According to scientific testing by NASA, it removes xylene, the toxic chemical found in tobacco smoke, car exhaust, and airborne mold.

Anyone with a dust allergy should consider getting a few spider plants. They are exceptionally easy to grow and extremely forgiving of neglect. They can also remove 90 percent of the toxins in your indoor air within a few days. Their leaves are like an all-purpose cleanser absorbing mold, allergens, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide.

The peace lily is one of the best plants for removing xylene, formaldehyde, and ammonia (commonly found in window cleaners). The thick, leathery rubber plant  and the yellow-speckled golden pothos are also powerful formaldehyde purifiers.

If the idea of an air-cleaning plant that thrives on neglect appeals to you, get a snake plant, also called mother-in-law's tongue. It goes to work at night absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. It also scrubs the air of all the major pollutants, including benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene.

For even greater protection, consider the installation of a high-quality individual room or whole-house filter.

While high-grade HEPA filters from companies such as Austin Air have long been considered the gold-standard, Molekule’s newly patented technology, photo electrochemical oxidation or PECO, represents a significant improvement in air purification possibilities. PECO is an innovative technology that utilizes free radicals to oxidize pollutants. Because it utilizes nanotechnology, PECO is capable of destroying pollutants (including viruses) that are 1000 times smaller than those eliminated by traditional HEPA filters.