Tips for Surviving China’s Winter Indoors (Part I)

Each year, we huddle in the cold with only a hot yam cooked in a diesel fumes to keep us warm, and then we scurry inside to hibernate for the rest of winter. In these next two posts we’ll tell you how you can improve your indoor air and water quality this winter so when warmer weather rolls around again you’re ready to go with a spring in your step.

Photo by Flickr user TofflerAnn

Feeling Cold?

1. If the air is too dry, use indoor plants to add humidity for comfort. The ideal humidity level indoors is between 35-60%.  Low humidity (frequent in the winter) may cause discomfort and dry skin, so plants with high transpiration rates like peace lilies, golden pothos, and English ivy add moisture to the air while creating fresh air.  Be careful not to allow air to get too moist because above 60%, dust mites, pests, and mold can flourish.

2. Avoid condensation and wetness. During the winter, the temperature difference between the outside and inside air leads to condensation forming.  In the same way that your eyeglasses will fog up when you come indoors on a cold day, water will form on cold objects such as windows or the concrete walls commonly found in China.  Dampness leads to mold and insect growth.  The best way to avoid this is to reduce indoor air humidity, increase indoor air temperature, increase ventilation with fans where water condenses, and wipe up around window frames.

3. Don’t use a humidifier without cleaning it frequently – If you must use a humidifier, make sure that you clean it frequently with several drops of vinegar or a baking soda solution.  Bacteria and mold can grow in the reservoirs and then are aerosolized and spread into the air where you breathe it in.

4. Don’t take long, hot showers without a chlorine filter – No better way to warm up in winter than with a nice hot shower, right?  The American Journal of Public Health links chlorine and chlorine byproducts to “significant increases in certain types of cancer, asthma and skin irritations…” and determined that “up to two-thirds of the harmful exposure was due to skin absorption and inhalation of chlorine in shower water”.   The higher the heat and length, the greater the vaporization and inhalation.  Although you can take quicker, colder showers, inexpensive shower filters (as little as 400rmb) are a better choice.  Read about shower filtration here or contact us to purchase a top-rated shower filter.

5. Add indoor plants to produce clean air and remove toxins –    NASA research has found that certain species of plants excel at removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that build up at dangerous levels indoors, especially during the winter, when we keep windows closed.  The plants absorb pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide, where microbes in their root system convert this into food.  Meanwhile, they improve air quality by producing oxygen and adding humidity for comfort.  Plus, they look and make us feel good!  A recent TED presentation shows how an Indian company improved productivity and reduced energy costs 70% with plants alone. Contact us to get information on how our plant program helps you select the right plants delivered straight to your home.

Cleaner Indoor Air from Green Plants

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Tips for Surviving China’s Winter Indoors (Part I)

  1. Erica says:

    Since UK water is treated with clorine, this kinda made me think…and worry a bit!

    Anyways, for those who are reading, might be interesting to know that Volatile Organic Compounds in Chinese is 挥发性有机化合物 (huī​fā​xìng yǒu​jī​huà​ hé​wù). Interesting for me, at least :D

  2. Louie says:

    If you liked these, another good set of tips on staying happy and healthy this winter can be found at Dr. Richard St. Cyr’s blog: http://www.myhealthbeijing.com/prevention/wellness/my-favorite-wellness-tips-of-2010/

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