We spend a lot of time inside- in fact according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors.
That percentage is shocking!
Our home is our sanctuary- we want to feel safe and secure in our homes.
But what if our air is doing us more harm that good?
There are some things you might notice if your home has poor air quality.
- Itchy or irritated eyes/nose/throat
- Consistent headaches
What can cause indoor air pollutants?
Indoor air pollutants can depend on many factors. Thankfully- many of the factors can be eliminated.
Some common sources include:
- Outdoor air pollution leaking in (if you are in a high traffic area by a highway or downtown core)
- Poor ventilation
- Pet Dander
- Conventional cleaners, air fresheners, and other fragrances (they may be doing more harm than good for you)
- Gas stoves and other appliances (especially older ones)
- Dampness and mold growth
- Carpet, drapes, and other furnishings that collect dust and dirt
- Clogged filters (air conditioner- furnace etc)
If you are concerned about the air quality in your home- the good news is- that you can take control of it.
Make that air cleaner and put your mind at ease knowing your family is breathing in better air quality.
Here are a few ways to improve the air inside your home:
1. Keep It Clean!
A clean house is often a healthier house. The more clean it is- the better hygiene it has. Cleaning it frequently will cut down on dust and pet dander.
That doesn’t mean just a quick vacuum and mop- but the nitty gritty details too!
Vacuuming your carpets and area rugs at least once or twice a week with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter is ideal.
Also regularly washing bedding and drapes- this will help cut down on allergens especially for pet owners as these items can attract these allergens. If you have a lot of pillows on the couch or even couch covers- wash them frequently as well.
Dust the small areas too- even areas you might not think of. Like blinds, fans, under free standing units etc.
Think of it this way- if it attracts dust- it attracts an allergen.
This also means cleaning all filters- whether it is on your AC, furnace, or even your car- they need to be cleaned regularly to avoid build up.
2. Make it Smoke Free!
Make your home a no-smoking zone.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals- yikes! If someone in your household smokes- encourage them to do it outside- and far enough away that it will not waft through any open windows.
Not only is the smell awful- especially for those that do not smoke and are sensitive to it. Research shows that secondhand smoke can increase a child’s risk of developing ear and respiratory infections, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
And for the smoker well- the effects are even worse- smoking can lead to breathing issues, heart attacks/strokes and also cancer.
3. Get An Air Purifier
If you’re allergic to indoor allergens and can’t control the source of the problem — for example, if you have a pet that you just cannot part with- but a family member is also allergic to- an air purifier would be a wise investment. Placed in the most commonly used areas of the house,they can help capture some of the irritants that may trigger any allergy symptoms. You’re probably not going to be able to remove these allergens completely, but you can cut down on them, which may help the problem.
Also consider a dehumidifier in damp areas, such as a basement, to help prevent the growth of mold. Ensure that bathrooms, another potential source of mold, are well ventilated as well and scrub off any visible mold that collects in the shower, on fixtures, or walls.
4. Let In The Fresh Air
This could be problematic if you are in a heavily trafficked area as the air may not be ideal- but if you are in a more rural area- consider opening the windows as much as you can. Of course- do this wisely if you have any outdoor allergies such as pollen.
Opening the windows will allow fresh air to move through the house. It can also help remove potential air contaminants from the kitchen from cooking or using any heavy cleaners.
5. Avoid Toxic Products
This goes for cleaners, paints and even beauty products.
If you are looking to spruce up the place and want to paint- use a low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints.
Paints release trace amounts of gases for months even after application — even though they appear to be fully dried and the smell is gone. And these gasses can include highly toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Also use exhaust fans to remove any gasses when you paint- and avoid storing open paint cans inside your home.
Hair and nail products, cleaning products, and other common products can increase the levels of VOCs. Seek products that are labeled as ‘low VOC’ to ensure you are getting a better quality product that will do less harm. And try to open a window or use an exhaust fan when using these products as well. Ventilate as much as you can whenever using any product that could have any chemicals.
Aerosols sprays may seem like a good idea- but many of them contain chemicals like formaldehyde and xylene. So you are actually causing more harm than good by releasing these toxins into your home air. Even hair sprays and everyday air fresheners can send formaldehyde and other VOCs not only into the air, but also onto surfaces throughout your home.