7 Unexpected Objects That Are Polluting The Air At Home

When you think of pollution, factories and cars might come to mind. But what about indoor air quality and the pollution at home? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, your home can be up to 10 times more polluted than the outdoors!

We spend about 90 percent of our time inside, increasing the risk for exposure. And of course, the sources aren’t always obvious. These objects continuously pollute buildings and homes with chemicals, dust, and more. You can’t see the pollutants but probably feel it. In fact, indoor pollution has been linked to symptoms like coughing, headache, nausea, and fatigue.1


To limit the risk, checkout these 7 hidden objects that are causing indoor air pollution.

1. Candles

When burned, candles release toxins that pollute the air


While nothing beats a home that smells like “ocean breeze,” most candles are pollutants. Experts have actually called candles one of the most common, unrecognized reasons behind poor indoor air.2

Paraffin, which is used in commercial candles, needs to be chemically bleached before it’s turned into wax. And fragrances also produce soot! The stronger the scent, the higher the risk. And most manufacturers add metal to the wicks so they stay straight while the wax melts. It seems clever, but when burned, these wicks release lead.3


How To Fix It

Use pure beeswax candles, which release fewer pollutants. An essential oil warmer can also be used to scent the home.

2. Hot Showers

Hot showers contain chlorine that can cause allergies


It’s common to filter drinking water, but what about showers? You’re exposed to more chlorine during a shower than when you drink the same water. This happens through inhalation. A 10–15-minute shower significantly increases your chlorine intake because you breathe it all in.4

When the water heats up, chlorine can even interact with other chemicals. These are already found in the indoor air or in the water. The outcome? Harmful byproducts like trihalomethane, a toxin linked to cancer.5


How To Fix It

Invest in a shower filter. But, test your home’s water first. You’ll need to buy a water filter that specifically targets the contaminants in your area.

3. Clutter

Excess clutter at home creates more space for dust


It’s true – the stuff in your home can make you sick. A home filled with trinkets and tchotchkes provides more places for dust to settle down. Dust mites will have a field day! These microscopic creatures are a major cause of indoor allergies.6 They normally live on mattresses, furniture, and carpets, but when you have stuff laying around, it offers more surface area.

How To Fix It

Remember, you don’t have to cover every counter and shelf with knick-knacks. Be picky. Don’t let clothes pile up, use an air purifier, and vacuum at least once a week.


4. Moldy Houseplants

Mold growth can pollute the air and trigger allergies


Do you have a green thumb? Watch out for mold, which thrives in moist soil. It’s even worse on humid, hot days. For some, mold causes serious allergies, triggering symptoms of a respiratory allergy, such as coughing, sneezing, congestion, and irritated eyes.

Mold can also live in carpets and moist rooms, like the bathroom and kitchen. Keeping houseplants will add insult to the injury.7

How To Fix It

Spread aquarium stones over the soil. It’ll add a decorative touch and control mold! Also, buy plants that haven’t been treated with pesticides. Farmer’s markets and local nurseries are your best bet.

5. Makeup And Toiletries

Makeup and toiletries contain harmful chemicals that are released into the air

The average beauty routine is surprisingly dangerous. For example, chemical additives are used to color makeup like eye shadows.8 Other toxins, such as hormone-disrupting phthalates and carcinogenic formaldehyde are also added to cosmetics.9

Normal toiletries aren’t any better. Antiperspirant deodorant has DNA-disrupting aluminum, while antibacterial soap and toothpaste have triclosan, a chemical that messes with hormones.10 11 To make things, we use these things every single day.

How To Fix It

Read labels carefully. Avoid anything with a fragrance and choose products without parabens, formaldehyde, triclosan, and other harmful ingredients. You can use databases like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database to find the safest products. Even better, make DIY products for a cheaper, personalized alternative.

6. Cleaning Products

Cleaning products contain emulsifiers that are harmful to your health

Does a clean home mean that it is safe? With commercial cleaners, that’s not the case. Many products have formaldehyde, a disinfectant associated with cancer. In a study by the National Cancer Institute, researchers found that sanitary workers who frequently use formaldehyde-laced cleaners are more likely to die from leukemia.12

Store-bought cleaners also have emulsifiers called ethanolamines. Two types of these emulsifiers – monoethanolamine (MEA) and diethanolamine (DEA) – can form carcinogenic nitrosamines. They also irritate and damage the respiratory system, causing asthma-like symptoms.13

How To Fix It

Use simple, natural cleaning ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and castile soap. Add essential oils for extra disinfecting power. If you’d rather buy than DIY, go for plant-based products.

7. Home Printers

Home printers release volatile organic compounds into the air

Having a printer at home is handy, but it’s also one of the top sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These gases are released from ink, toners, and copy paper. In 2015, a study in the Environmental Science and Pollution Research measured VOC levels from 7 printers and copiers. The machines were found to release VOC’s trichloroethylene (carcinogenic) and tetrachloroethylene (possibly carcinogenic).14 It’s not what you want from a home printer.

How To Fix It

Only use a printer when needed. Keep the area well-ventilated with a fan, window, or both. Don’t use a printer much? Instead of buying one, go to the library when you need to print.

Some things, like commercial toiletries and cleaners, might be hard to give up. But remember, it’s the first step to creating a healthier, happier home.