The holidays truly are the most wonderful time of the year. Who doesn’t enjoy decking the halls with festive decorations? But while getting into the holiday spirit is great fun, many of our winter activities increase the level of air pollution in our homes, which in the short run can cause allergies and headaches, and in the long run elevates our risk of respiratory infection, or worse: lung cancer.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to cancel the Holidays! Simply keeping these 7 tips in mind will help you reduce the dangerous substances circulating in your home this holiday season.
1. Opt for a real Christmas tree
Every time you set up and break down your fake tree, or every time you adjust a branch or move it, its plastic is breaking down a little and releasing chemicals and little dust particles in the air, according to the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York. What’s in those dust particles? Possibly lead, arsenic, and other dangerous chemicals! Keep your air cleaner with a real tree, which will also smell wonderful.
2. Use natural items to create festive decorations
If the plastic from fake trees is a no-go, it’s best to avoid other plastic decorations, too. Instead, try using pine cones, berries, branches, leaves, flowers, and anything else you can find, and check Pinterest for ways to make your own wreaths and mistletoe. It’s fun, stylish, unique, and much better for the air!
3. Adorn your home with live plants
Studies have shown that live plants are able to improve the quality of the air just through photosynthesis. Wellnessmama.com has a list of plants that are beautiful and really good at doing this, like orchids, tulips, and azaleas, but you don’t have to limit yourself to this list; leafy plants like the Christmas-y poinsettia will also help combat those toxins!
4. Skip the scented candles and air fresheners
Scented candles often contain paraffin, says KeeperoftheHome.com, which releases carcinogens when burned. Similarly, air fresheners contain phthalates, which disrupt hormones and cause health problems, especially in children, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Instead, make your own air fresheners by simmering some herbs and fruit in a pot. You can find recipes for great combinations simply by looking on Pinterest.
5. Trade in your wood-burning fireplace
Wood-burning fireplaces are popular because they’re warm and festive, but unfortunately, they also release tiny particles into the air that can cause lung disease, according to PureRoom.com. Electric, gas, and propane are better options because they don’t release any particles, but still produce the same warmth.
6. Ventilate your cooking
Stove-top cooking can produce any number of chemicals and particles. It may be unavoidable that some pollutants will get in the air, but you can help reduce your exposure to them by turning on the ventilation hood every time you cook, and by cleaning the hood on a regular basis.
7. Ask guests to take their shoes off
Now that you’ve safely decorated, warmed, and scented your home, you’ll want to invite friends and family over to enjoy your delicious cooking. Just make sure they remove their shoes! This prevents dirt and dust particles from collecting in your carpet and on other floor surfaces, and reduces the possibility that it will be stirred up later, to be breathed in by you.
Keep your family safe from indoor air pollutants this holiday season with these 7 tips. Remember, every little bit helps, so even taking small steps this year and next will help improve the air quality of your home! Happy holidays!