Playtimes April 2014 - page 73

purifiers all the time, he suggests using
them in your bedrooms before you fall
asleep. He adds, “Pollutants that result
from fossil fuels are not the kind of
toxins you can build an immunity to.
It’s best to scrub the air of respirable
particulates your body does not have a
defence mechanism for.”
Sick building syndrome causes
are frequently pinned down to flaws
in the heating, ventilation, and
air conditioning (HVAC) systems.
Bacteria, mould and mildew require
only dampness and a source of food,
making air conditioners an ideal
location for them to develop, lodging
as far in as the cooling coil and
condenser. While regular cleaning of
filters is essential, professional HVAC
cleaning companies like Airestec
suggest an annual maintenance
appointment to deep-clean the
internal parts of the air conditioners
with a biodegradable enzyme,
followed by a disinfecting process to
prevent future build-up.
Government and health manuals
suggest ventilating homes as much as
possible. This is especially true if your
home was recently painted or if you
acquired new furniture or carpets.
Radon, formaldehyde and biological
contaminants build up when windows
are shut and exacerbate in the
absence of air movement and cross
ventilation. Once you have ventilated
the apartment, you can switch back to
using a dehumidifier and air purifier.
Go green
House plants do more than just absorb
carbon dioxide and release oxygen;
some of them eliminate significant
amounts of benzene, formaldehyde
and trichloroethylene. The first list of
air-filtering plants was compiled by
NASA as part of the NASA Clean Air
Study, which researched ways to clean
air in space stations. A TED Talk
titled “How to grow your own fresh
air” suggested three common plants
– areca palm, mother-in-law’s tongue
and money plants – create enough
fresh air to significantly reduce eye
irritation and boost blood oxygen
levels. To illustrate his point, Kamal
Meattle, the scientist who compiled
these results, said, “You could be in a
bottle with these three plants, with a
cap on it, and you wouldn’t need any
fresh air.”
The easiest step home-dwellers
can take towards better indoor
air quality is to opt out of toxic
household cleaners and wall paints
that release harmful chemical
compounds. Daniela Pelanora of
Native Essentials recommends using
essential oils as disinfectants and
sanitisers. She says, “In World War
I, hospitals in France and Italy used
baking soda and thyme to wash
bandages and linen because they
were widely known for their anti-
bacterial properties.” A combination
of tea-tree oil and white vinegar is
an effective cleaning solution for
household surfaces and air filters.
One flu season, Daniela asked her
child’s teachers to diffuse a blend
of lemon, mandarin and eucalyptus
in the classroom and saw a visible
drop in children falling ill. New
carpets that are high in VOC can
be sprinkled with a combination
of baking soda and essential oils to
absorb toxic chemicals.
Louise Buckley, a Hong Kong-
based naturopath, believes that
when we feed our bodies with the
right nutrients, we have the ability
to armour up against pollutants.
She says, “Fermented foods such as
miso soup, kombucha (fermented
tea), kefir and kimchi have the ability
to support cell formation, boost
our immunity and reduce allergic
reactions.” Even breastfeeding mums
can take these superfoods. She adds,
“Regardless of how clean our indoor
air is, we still need to step out of our
bubble and face the city, so we might
as well prepare our bodies for it.”
April 2014
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