The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that indoor levels of air pollutants can be two to five times higher and occasionally one-hundred times higher than the outdoors. (1) Which prompts me to wonder “do we give enough thought to the quality of our indoor air? Given our day-to-day responsibilities, I’m lead to believe that it is forgotten about, yet indoor air pollutants are responsible for a myriad of health issues regarding the ear, nose, throat and skin.

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

I have to admit – I was an avid candle burner in the 90’s through the early 2000’s. I am a stickler for a home that smells “yummy.” It took me years to dive deep into my own chronic health conditions and eliminate as many endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that I could to finally see a massive change in my own health (I haven’t had an asthma attack in over ten years and only suffer with allergies once/twice a year which is huge for me). (For more detail on reducing EDCs click HERE.)


In a recent study done by the Environmental Science and Pollution Journal it was determined that candle wax strongly influences air pollutant emissions. (2) Other scented household items like spray cleaners, air fresheners, room sprays, incense and even paint, distribute toxins throughout your home, like, these Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): (3)


  • Butanal – found in emissions from burning candles, cigarettes and barbecues.

  • Terpenes – found in “fragrant” products such as spray cleaner and soap

  • Ethanol – found in glass cleaner and laundry detergent

  • Dichlorobenzene – found in room sprays and air freshener

  • Benzene – found in paint, glue and carpeting




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Health Effects of Indoor Toxins

At the very least, the quality of your indoor air can irritate the mucosal membranes of the nose, eyes, throat and respiratory tract. However, new research shows that heightened sensitivity to indoor toxins presenting as multiple symptoms has a formal diagnosis. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) also known as idiopathic environmental intolerance, has been described as a chronic acquired disorder characterized by nonspecific symptoms in multiple organ systems and is associated with exposure to low-level chemicals. (4) Symptoms of MCS include any or all of the following (5):


  • burning, stinging eyes

  • cough

  • digestive upset

  • extreme fatigue/lethargy

  • headache/migraine/vertigo/dizziness

  • muscle & joint pain

  • nausea

  • poor memory & concentration

  • runny nose (rhinitis)

  • sensitivity to light & noise

  • sinus problems

  • skin rashes and/or itching skin

  • sleeping problems

  • sore throat

  • wheezing


Do you or someone in your home struggle with chronic allergies or sickness in general? Patients of mine who have significantly reduced the amount indoor toxins in their homes have reported back to me experiencing less headaches, irritability, fatigue, allergic episodes and respiratory illness upon implementing natural solutions that improve the quality of the air.



3 Natural Solutions for Improving Indoor Air Quality

Since indoor air can have two-five times higher levels of toxins than outdoor air – you really do need to implement an indoor air quality strategy. Thankfully we have many natural solutions to improving the air we breathe in our homes, and here is my 3 step strategy:


1) Eliminate the Source

For my friends who can’t imagine their home not smelling “yummy,” try replacing candles, room sprays and air fresheners with diffused essential oils. Ylang ylang is one of my absolute favorite essential oils to diffuse! Not only does it smell amazing it’s properties are strong enough to calm the mind and elevate your mood (learn more HERE.) NOTE: when purchasing essential oils, opt for pure, therapeutic grade. You may spend a little more on the front side, but you can guarantee it isn’t mixed with other chemicals.

Replacing toxic spray cleaners could never be easier considering all of the “green” options now available at your local grocery store. For more of a Do-It-Yourself approach, try my home made glass or granite cleaner (learn more HERE.)


2) Ventilate with Regularity

Once/week I turn off our air conditioner and open all of the windows. Then I turn on all of the fans on full blast for approximately fifteen minutes. You may think this is odd, considering I live the deep South where the air quality is damp and heavy, but even in this environment, a flow of fresh outdoor air inside our home is absolutely necessary to eliminate the build up of moisture, dust and other air pollutants.


3) Purchase an Air Purifier

 Even with a significant effort to do my best in reducing air toxins in our home, I have found that a high quality air purifier is necessary. There are so many great options now available to the consumer, but in the LeBlanc household we personally use the Air Doctor. The reason we chose this brand was because I was specifically looking for a system that had filters that would last for six months or more, filtered out 99.9% of harmful pollutants and had an “automated” feature that would self-adjust to the changing air quality. The unfortunate truth here is that you get what you pay for. In my research of air purifiers, I found the most inexpensive ones to do virtually nothing in eliminating certain toxins in the air, so I recommend you do your own research and prepare to make a well-worth-it investment.




Final Thoughts on Indoor Air Quality

 While there are many substances to blame for polluting the air inside your home, assessing your family’s overall health is a good place to start. For the family member that can’t shake sickness, or suffers from allergies, implementing natural solutions to improve indoor air quality can be a game changer. Since we tend to spend a majority of our time indoors, establishing your own indoor air quality standard is truly a long-term approach to better health for yourself and the ones you love. While an effective air purifier is a bit of a financial investment, begin with a budget friendly approach by eliminating toxic sources and ventilating your home on a regular basis.