People with asthma, allergies and respiratory illnesses are concerned about indoor air quality, but it is an issue that affects us all. After all, we all need to breathe.
Indoor air can be 2–5 times more polluted than outdoor. With people spending up to 90 per cent of their time inside, this can be a concern. But breathe easy—cleaning the air in your home is easier than you think.
First, ventilate. Clean those furnace air filters, crack open a window, run exhaust fans and keep the humidity low. High humidity can be a breeding ground for mold. Run a dehumidifier in your basement and empty it regularly. Run your bathroom fan for at least half an hour after a shower and run the kitchen fan while cooking to eliminate cooking fumes. All fans should vent outdoors.
Keep your home clean. Vacuum and damp mop floors regularly and reduce the amount of carpeting, upholstery and drapery. Use a damp cloth for dusting to keep that dust under control. Carpet especially can trap toxins, allergens and dust mites, so vacuum it regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum, or remove the carpet altogether.
Prevent contamination by eliminating smoking in your home. Avoid using wood stoves, as well. Keep pets out of bedrooms.
Chemicals can also trigger allergic reactions. Cleaning products in particular can release harmful gases into the air. Clean with natural products, such as baking soda, castile soap, or vinegar. Avoid any scented products including air fresheners. Using natural cleaning products will keep your home smelling fresh and clean without the harmful effects of chemical perfumes. You can find easy recipes for making your own effective cleaners online.
If you plan to remodel your home or are buying new, research products carefully. Some products contain high levels of formaldehyde, which can put off-gas into your home for years. New carpeting, countertops, cabinetry, flat-pack furniture and caulking can contain formaldehyde in their glues. Look for low- or no-VOC paints, as well. Volatile organic compounds are linked to cancer, eye and throat irritation and headaches. Even new upholstery can be laden with chemical sprays and formaldehyde. Mattresses, couches, chairs and drapery can be sprayed with chemical-free stain-resistors or starches. Do a “sniff test” before you buy. If you can smell the chemicals in the couch, leave it at the store.
These simple steps will keep your house clean and safe and will help everyone breathe easier.