One of the unfortunate consequences of winter is sacrificing the quality of the air we regularly breathe. In order to be comfortable during the winter, we use energy to warm the air inside our walls and enforce barriers to keep the cold air out. Despite our good intention to conserve energy and stay warm, winterizing contributes to a stuffy indoor environment.
In order to provide bodywork clients with the best experience possible, therapists can keep their healing space warm while simultaneously improving indoor air quality. Even with all of the windows, doors and cracks sealed to keep out fresh, cold air, there are eleven simple ways to improve your indoor air. After bodyworkers take these extra steps, clients will appreciate their ability to breathe fresh, unpolluted air during their massage session.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates indoor air pollutant levels to be two to five times higher than pollution levels outdoors. Despite this issue, winter weather prompts home and business owners to tightly seal any cracks that could allow cold drafts to penetrate inside. Unfortunately, insulating a building stops fresh air from entering and raises the concentrations of both allergens and pollutants inside. In wintertime, there are typically more contaminants breathed during a massage session than during months where open windows and doors facilitate a fresh air exchange.
Massage therapy encourages toxins to be released from the body. Breathing toxicity in while the body is expelling poisons almost nullifies the healing effort being made. However, when the air filling a client’s lungs is clean and low in pollutants, their healing potential from a session is increased.
Improving Air Quality
The EPA recommends three basic strategies to improve indoor air quality: source control, ventilation improvements and air purification. By making a concerted effort toward each of these three strategies, you could find yourself and your clients breathing clean, fresh air – even during the winter.
Source Control – Identifying and then minimizing the source of pollution can make a tremendous difference in air quality. Some sources and subsequent solutions include:
- Dust and dirt – Vacuum, scrub and dust frequently during the winter. Pay extra attention to wet areas where mold might accumulate.
- Emissions from a heater – Adjust controls to lower emissions and regularly maintain all heating sources.
- Cleaning agents – Use only non-toxic cleaning agents.
- Building materials and furnishings – Don’t choose winter as the season to make office improvements with chemical-containing materials. Insulation, carpeting, cabinetry or furniture made of pressed wood and paint all release small amounts of chemicals into the air for a surprisingly long amount of time.
- Ventilation Improvements – Enhancing ventilation is an easy and effective way to control poor air quality by funneling polluted air out while bringing fresh air into circulation. Some suggestions for improving ventilation include:
- Open up – Open windows and doors whenever the weather permits.
- Circulate – Use a fan to move stagnant air.
- Vent outside – Make sure your heating sources are adequately vented.
- Air Purification – Removing air contaminants is a surefire way to improve air quality. Some approaches for purifying the air include:
- Diffuse purifying essential oils – Using a diffuser, infuse indoor air with an essential oil containing antibacterial or purification properties. Examples include lemon, grapefruit or tea tree.
- Air purifier – Air purifiers equipped with HEPA filters do an excellent job of filtering contaminants from the air. Most air purifiers capture particulate matter but do not remove gas and other chemicals. Activated carbon filters are needed to remove gas and chemicals.
- Replace filters frequently – Whether maintaining your heating source or air purifier, replace or clean the filter often to prevent pollutants from being reissued into the air.
- Plants – Many plants are known as nature’s air purifiers because they can absorb toxins from the air. Be aware that mold often grows around plants that are watered often, so routinely check for and clean any subsequent mold growth.
We generally take the air we breathe for granted. However, ignoring the quality of our indoor air could impede healing. We are dependent on air and our bodies respond to how clean it is. Especially because massage recipients are encouraged to breathe deeply to accelerate the body’s release of toxicity, bodyworkers must make every effort to reduce indoor air pollution. By minimizing air contaminants, increasing ventilation and purifying the air, therapists can welcome their clients with a clean environment. In addition, these efforts will help clients realize the full potential of their massage – even in the dead of winter.