Don’t just protest… Protect!
Indoor air quality can be two to five times more toxic than the outdoor air, according to the EPA. Cleaning products, mold, cookware, synthetic air fresheners, and carpet and other household furnishings can add to a toxic indoor environment. The average home contains an estimated 63 synthetic chemicals for a total of about 10 gallons of hazardous material inside just one home!
Here’s how you can become an advocate for clean air in your home today:
- Upgrade your cleaning products. Natural alternatives are less expensive when you use non-branded items like vinegar for the windows, baking soda for scrubbing and coconut oil for wood polish. Add lung-supportive essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus or wintergreen to any of these products to leave the house smelling fresh.
- I especially love a warm winter fire but during smog season fires are a no go. By filling the house with beeswax candles or Himalayan salt lamps, I can create the same warming mood that a glowing hearth provides and clean the air with the negative ions they emit at the same time.
- A quality air filter is an investment. Many brands and comparisons can be found online. After extensive research I feel confident in suggesting Austin Air, Air Doctor and Molekule. These all remove the ultra fine particles down to .1 micron unlike traditional HEPA filters.
- Test for mold and keep leaks sealed. Black mold is a silent killer that can wreak havoc on your health. If you know there is mold in your home, please educate yourself before attempting to clean it, as it is easy to do more harm than good.
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A pleasant way to clean the air in your house is to grow certain plants tested to reduce air pollution including philodendron, aloe, lavender, bamboo palm and spider plants. Besides cleaning the air, you get to care for a living friend that brings beauty to your space.
In my life as a holistic health practitioner I often express the idea that our bodies are a microcosm of the Earth. Her rivers are our arteries and veins, the trees our lungs, and her air our breath. Taking care of our bodies can be a microcosmic way of caring for the planet. Consider some of these actions to help you stay healthy this winter:
- Hydrate by drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. Your lungs are a detoxification organ and the best solution to pollution is dilution. Offer your body a running river to help move toxins; it will naturally take a load off of the lungs.
- Take supportive herbs or drink teas formulated to nourish the lungs. I like Breathe Easy by Yogi Tea which is sold in most stores. Mullein, lobelia, licorice, ginger and oregano are good herbs for lung health.
- Exercise has so many health benefits but if you’re going to get yourself huffing and puffing in the name of health, try to get high. By choosing high altitude activities you can escape the inversion and hopefully see some sunshine for an added vitamin D bonus. There is no better way to chase (or ski) away those winter blues.
- If you have access to an infrared sauna or a steam room, I recommend you use it. I like to hang eucalyptus branches from my shower head so that every hot shower becomes a natural treat for my lungs and mood.
- If you live in Salt Lake’s winter soup, consider a heavy metal detox yearly. There are many ways and products to rid the body of heavy metals. One that I recommend is Metal Free (www.metalfree.com).
- Protect yourself when outdoors with a face mask. Be sure to choose a N95, N99 or an N100; you’ll find some good ones at CATALYST’s Clean Air Solutions Fair on January 19! These masks are made specifically to ease your breathing on bad air days. u
Nicole DeVaney is a holistic health coach and co-owner Iron and Salt Studio in Salt Lake City.
Sometimes, during a long inversion, especially as the air becomes soupier, it may become difficult to focus on anything else. When your heart feels as heavy as the atmosphere I offer you this personal practice I work with during the smoggy season:
When the natives of these lands experienced drought they would pray for rain—or, as some describe it, they would pray rain. They would hold space in their minds and hearts as if what they were asking for had already come to pass, consciously feeling gratitude for the rain beating down upon their faces and fields.
I invite you to create a space in your mind daily where you go to give thanks for the trees and the clean air they provide. Find appreciation for every breath, your beating heart and our beautiful city. Breathe deeply and exhale any grief you carry from your precious lungs. Create a bubble of clean air around yourself with your heart and mind. Take it with you, and share it!