How much time do you spend indoors, versus outdoors?
More and more, we are turning into an “Indoor Generation”. Recent studies tell us that modern people are spending less and less time outdoors. Indoors, we can get everything we need. Failing that, we can have home delivery. The problem with this is – indoor air can be terribly polluted, up to five times as polluted as outdoor air. Whether it is the accumulation of toxins released from cleaning products, or mold spores, or excess humidity or just plain old stale indoor air, our indoor air quality at home is quite likely to be much worse than outdoor air quality. And yet, indoors is where we are spending most of our time.
The Velux Group has released facts from many countries documenting “The Indoor Generation”. For Americans, 25% of the population reported that they spend 21 to 24 hours daily indoors. We get up and go to work – where we are indoors much of the day. Then, when we come home, we spend our “leisure time’ in front of the tv. Then we go to sleep and then do it all over again. Now that it is hot, we stay indoors just as much or more, due to the heat. How much time do you spend indoors versus outdoors?
What’s wrong with spending so much time indoors?
Most people don’t realize how bad our indoor air can be. The EPA publishes info telling us that indoor air can be 2 to 5 times as bad as outdoor air, but 77% of the respondents to this Velux Report survey did not believe that indoor air quality is worse than outdoor air. We have talked often about sources of indoor pollutants in this blog before here and here and here. Aside from the polluted air indoors, there are other health issues with spending so much time indoors. People who spend a lot of time indoors tend to be linked with higher rates of obesity, issues with cholesterol and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as various chronic health concerns, such as asthma, headaches, fatigue, and respiratory inflammation.
There are plenty of studies showing that there are LOTS of benefits, both direct, and indirect, to spending more time outdoors. Sleep, for example. More time spent outdoors exposes you to more bright blue light during the daytime. This stimulates you so that you are more alert and productive and helps to reset your internal circadian clocks so that you sleep better at night. Time spent in sunlight will increase the vitamin D available to your body. Look around while you are out and relax your eyes by looking at far-away objects – rather than that computer screen!
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It is blazing hot outside – I don’t want to go out in it!
Being out in the outdoors doesn’t have to be for hours and hours each day. Try spending a few minutes here and a few minutes there outside. Small things you do can have a bigger impact than you think. Take your lunch out and eat it outdoors. You don’t have to sit in the direct sunlight to enjoy benefits.
What if I just can’t make it out more often?
There are many things you can do to clean up your indoor environment. Check out the 8 Principles of a Healthy Home here: http://blog.nokout.com/ideas-to-help-you-keep-a-healthy-home-in-summer-heat/.
Look in those places under the sink where you keep cleaning products. Read a bit about how to identify what might be a problem here: http://blog.nokout.com/personal-care-products-contribute-to-air-pollution/. Remember that one of the claims-to-fame of Nok-Out and SNiPER is that they are, at the most basic level, all-purpose cleaners that are suitable for casual use around the house and they will not pollute your home.
If learning more about Indoor Air Quality interests you, then visit the EPA website – they have lots of great information for us here: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=.
Other Information Resources
A newly published study finds that pollution from vehicle emissions is down – great news! – but also that there is a surprisingly high contribution to total pollution that comes from paint, perfumes, pesticides and – household cleaners. The study focused on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and concluded that around 50% of VOC pollutants in industrialized cities now come from chemical products such as “pesticides, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, cleaning agents, and personal care products”. “As transportation gets cleaner, those other sources become more and more important. The stuff we use in our everyday lives can impact air pollution.” The surprising thing here is that personal care products are now included along with vehicle exhaust emissions and industrial plant emissions as a significant source of air pollution.
What ‘Stuff’ are they talking about?
That ‘stuff’ comes from those bottles and cans under the sink, from those little bottles on your dressing table, and from petroleum-based products such as varnish, paint, fingernail polish, perfumes, lotions and so on. They are called “Volatile Chemical Products” (VCP’s) and are found in common cleaning solvents and personal care products.
Part of the issue is that in modern home construction, our homes seal up tightly to keep our energy usage low during cold or hot weather. When you varnish that shelf in the living room, it releases VOC’s for some time. Those VOC’s cannot escape because of the tight seals around doors, windows and vents and so they accumulate indoors. The study found that “indoor concentrations [of VOC’s] are often 10 times higher indoors than outdoors” and thus, people indoors are exposed to very high concentrations of VOC’s in their own homes.
Why Do VOC’s matter?
VOC’s are linked to health issues including respiratory irritation, asthma, headaches and dizziness. Long-term exposure may cause damage to liver, kidney and may contribute to cancers. Additionally, long term exposure to indoor concentrations of VOC’s may be a factor in people who develop Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS). For strong healthy people, exposure to small amounts of VOC’s may not be a problem. But for more vulnerable people, minimizing exposure to concentrations of VOC’s in the home is the smart thing to do. You wouldn’t want your child or elderly parent to breathe in the exhaust from your car, and you also wouldn’t want them to be exposed to pollution in your home either.
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What to Do?
Your home doesn’t have to have such high concentrations of VOC’s. Here is a list of things you can do to clean up the air inside your home.
- Air out your home when possible. If your home is a bit drafty, then you are already doing this. If your home is newer and seals more tightly, this airing out becomes more important. Just flush out the old air by opening windows and doors.
- Choose cleaning products that do not have fragrances and do not contribute to VOC formation. Both SNiPER and Nok-Out are good examples of products that won’t harm your indoor environment, or you!
- Do away with products that have chemical fragrances. Air fresheners, laundry products, scented candles and so on. Check the labels to ensure this.
- Check your favorite cosmetics. Google “are my cosmetics safe” and check the ingredients. Here’s one list for you: http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/red-list/
- Keep houseplants. NASA did a study showing that common houseplants can extract things like benzene and formaldehyde from your indoor environment. See https://blog.nokout.com/indoor-air-pollution-the-green-solution/ for more information.
- Whenever possible, use petroleum products such as paints, varnishes, nail polish, and some adhesives outside. Allow them to dry thoroughly before bringing them back indoors.
The flu season is upon us – again – and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “This year’s flu season may be especially severe“. According to the CDC, “This is the first year we had the entire continental U.S. be the same color on the graph. Meaning there’s widespread activity in all of the continental U.S. at this point”. An influenza strain known as H3N2 is the most prevalent this year and the vaccine developed to protect us is “about 30% effective”, the CDC says. For most people, getting the flu is uncomfortable, but little more. Some people however, including those with underlying health conditions, are more vulnerable. The most vulnerable are the elderly, children younger than five (and especially younger than two) as well as residents of nursing homes and longer care facilities. If you are concerned, and want to protect your family against the spread of the flu, here are some precautions you can take to keep your family safe.
1) Get a Vaccination
With only a 30% effectiveness rate, you may think, why bother? But some protection is better than none. And if you do get the flu after getting the vaccination, it is likely that your bout with the flu will be much milder than someone who didn’t get vaccinated at all. This is especially important if you are a member of one of the most vulnerable groups.
There could still be up to 13 weeks of flu season remaining. Be aware that there is often a rise in the prevalence of the ‘B’ strain of influenza later in the season. Getting vaccinated may help protect your family.
2) WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!
This is probably the single most important thing you can do. The reason is that we are constantly touching the same places: door knobs, keyboards, money, steering wheel and so on.
You can use SNiPER to wash your hands – it is perfectly safe. Just spray your hand, then ‘air-wash’ them to help spread the spray effectively on both hands. Hold them up to air dry for 1 minute.
If you have the flu:
a) Don’t go to work (or school). You will potentially spread it to others! Stay home for 24 hours after the fever subsides.
b) If you can see a doctor within the first 48 hours, you may be able to take antiviral meds to shorten the length of time you are sick and reduce it’s severity.
c) Cover your mouth and sneeze into a tissue or handkerchief – not into the air!
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3) How can I keep the rest of the family safe if one member gets the flu?
Spray ‘high contact’ areas with SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant. The CDC tells us that “Most people are at peak contagiousness in the three or four days after becoming sick, but you may be able to infect others from a day before to seven days after developing symptoms“. Spraying high contact touch surfaces will reduce the likelihood of spreading contagions. High contact areas could include doorknobs, push plates on swinging doors, light switches, handles, even money! Take a small 4oz bottle of SNiPER to the gym and spray the equipment you use.
Replace your air filters. If they don’t need replacing just yet, spray them with SNiPER to kill trapped germs.
If you have a ‘fogger’ use it to treat many surfaces (and the air) efficiently. See https://blog.nokout.com/to-fog-or-not-to-fog/. If you don’t have a fogger, you may be able to use a common household Vaporizer to treat a room. See https://www.nokout.com/Vaporizer-How-to-use.html. Treating rooms or your home in this way can reduce exposure to other family members, so this makes perfect sense.
4) Use that Humidifier
Recent studies show that it is not so much the cold weather that helps spread the flu, but the relative humidity. According to one expert, “We don’t have the airtight evidence that a humidifier reduces your chance of getting sick, but we know that dryness is bad for you. Low relative humidity can dry out your nasal passages, making you more vulnerable to the flu virus and other bugs.” The ‘sweet spot’ appears to be a relative humidity range of 40% to 60% for overall health. See: https://blog.nokout.com/safe-humidifier-use-eases-the-pain-caused-by-dry-air/
SNiPER is a great tool in your toolbox to fight the influenza virus, and protect your family, because, while there are many disinfectants capable of killing germs, most other disinfectants are highly corrosive, or highly toxic or just plain dangerous. SNiPER has the lowest toxicity rating that the EPA gives in ALL FOUR Categories: inhalation, ingestion, to skin, and to eyes, so it is safe for you, your family and your pets also.