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5 Steps To Refine Indoor Air Quality

We are inclinable to think of air pollution as something outside - smog, ozone, or haze hanging in the air, specifically in summer. However the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can be more polluted than the air outside. The air inside your home may be polluted by lead (in house dust), formaldehyde, fire-retardants, radon, even volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners. Some pollutants are tracked into the home. Some arrive via a new mattress or furniture, carpet cleaners, or a coat of paint on the walls.

In such mix of pollution, you'll also find microscopic dust mites - a major allergen - plus mold and heaps of pet dander. In case if you don't have pets, you've probably got pet dander. It's become what we call a community allergen. Pet owners carry it around on their clothes and shed it throughout the day. You can't get away from it.

Children, people with asthma, and the elderly may be notably sensitive to indoor pollutants, but other effects on health may appear years later, after repeated exposure.

Indoor allergens and irritants have become much more important in recent decades because we're spending more time indoors. And because modern homes are airtight, these irritants can't easily escape. We're all exposed to a greater degree than we were three or four decades ago.

5 ways to refine indoor air quality

1. Keep your floors fresh.

  • Chemicals and allergens can store in household dust for decades. By using a vacuum with a HEPA filter you can reduce concentrations of lead in your home. Using a vacuum cleaner that has strong suction, rotating brushes, and a HEPA filter ensures that dust and dirt won’t get blown back out in the exhaust.
  • Purify. Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water to capture any lingering dust or allergens.
  • Prevention. Put a large floor mat at every door. People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into your home. If the mat is big enough, even those who don't wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat - not the floors in your home.

2. Keep a healthy level of humidity. Dust mites and mold love moisture. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% helps keep them and other allergens under control. A dehumidifier (and air conditioner during summer months) helps reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively controls allergens.

More tips for dehumidifying your home:

  • While cooking, keep the windows in the kitchen opened or use an exhaust fan.
  • Don't overwater houseplants.
  • Dry the clothes outside.
  • Fix leaky plumbing to prevent moisture-loving mold.
  • Empty drip pans in your window air conditioner and dehumidifier.

3. Make your home a no-smoking zone. Probably the single most important aspect of indoor air pollution is secondhand cigarette smoke.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Research shows that secondhand smoke enlarges a child's risk of developing ear and respiratory infections, asthma, cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For the smoker, this addiction causes cancer, breathing problems, heart attacks, and stroke.

4. Test for radon. If you have a new or old home, you could have a radon problem. This colorless, odorless gas raises the risk of lung cancer of the essence. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is particularly high.

Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium found in nearly all soils. It characteristically draws through the ground and into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Drafty homes, airtight homes, homes with or without a basement - any home can potentially have a radon problem.

5. Smell good naturally. You may associate that lemony or piney scent with a clean kitchen or clean clothes. Although the synthetic fragrances in laundry products and air fresheners emit dozens of different chemicals into the air. You won’t find their names on the product labels. Common laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and air fresheners in solid, spray, and oil form may all emit such gasses.

Most fragrances are derived from petroleum products, and generally haven’t been tested to see if they have any significant adverse health effects in humans when they are inhaled. Some that have been tested raise concern. Phthalates are a group of chemicals often used in fragrances and also used to soften plastics. According to the studies it disrupts hormones in animals. How can you shield yourself from being injured by that phthalates?

  • Look for fragrance-free or naturally-scented laundry products.
  • Don’t use aerosol sprays deodorants, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, furniture polish, and air fresheners.
  • Only fresh air. Open windows so toxic chemicals don't build up in your home.
  • Use HEPA filters and air purifiers for your home.