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Many think air pollution is just an outdoor issue. The truth is, indoor air quality is just as important. Perhaps even more so, when you consider the amount of time spent indoors. Poor inside air quality is due to many factors such as a lack of ventilation, chemicals present in building materials (especially in older homes), fire retardants, radon and more. Additionally, there can be issues of dust mites, molds, and pet dander, all of which are very common allergens.
Some argue that in the past, people never seemed to be as sensitive to these allergens as they are today. The fact is, people spend more time indoors than they used to. More time spent indoors equals more exposure to indoor air pollutants. To compound matters, most of today’s homes are so airtight that it is difficult to achieve proper air exchange with the outdoors. Below, we’ll discuss some tips to help you improve the air quality in your home.
It all begins with the floors. Keeping your floors clean can play a large part in reducing a multitude of allergens, such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. A quality vacuum cleaner with rotating brushes and a HEPA filter can ensure that you are capturing and keeping the majority of these pollutants out of your home. Make sure to vacuum thoroughly, remembering areas where dust likes to accumulate, such as the edges of carpeting and upholstered furniture. Mopping the floors on a regular basis will help pick up any dust that the vacuum cleaner may have missed. Lastly, encourage the use of floor mats at all entrances. That way, most dirt, dust and pollutants will be captured at the doorway where it belongs. Be sure to clean the floor mats on a regular basis as well.
Discourage smoking indoors. Since cigarettes are known to contain more than 4000 chemicals, it always makes sense to keep them out of the area where the rest of the family lives. If there are smokers who live in the home, setting up a comfortable place outdoors where they can relax may be a good solution.
Test your home for radon. Home radon tests are readily available and cost around $15. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that many experts consider to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US. By testing your home for radon, you will know whether or not you have a radon problem. If your radon levels have tested high, there are many simple ways to reduce them. The EPA offers their Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction which can be found here.
Try to reduce unnecessary chemicals in the home. Many home products emit what are known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals that evaporate at room temperature and can be emitted by products ranging from household cleaners, paints and some furnishings. To help, try to choose fragrance free or naturally scented products wherever possible. “Green” cleaners that don’t include any artificial fragrances are great alternatives.
Be sure to check and change the filters for your heating/cooling system often. It’s also a good idea to have your ductwork inspected and cleaned at least annually to reduce dust is much as possible.
Moisture control plays a large role in effecting your home’s air quality. Try to maintain a relative humidity between 30 and 50%. By using an indoor thermometer that monitors both temperature and humidity, you’ll be able to determine if you need to take any action. Too much humidity in the home can lead to molds and mildew. The most effective ways to control humidity is proper ventilation in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry areas by installing and maintaining the appropriate exhaust fans. Open windows when possible to allow fresh air in. Lastly, using a humidifier or a dehumidifier can help regulate the humidity level in problem areas.
Make sure all fuel-burning appliances are properly maintained and ventilated. Additionally, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed.
As you can see, there are many things you can do to improve and maintain air quality in your home. If you have any questions, stop in and ask our knowledgeable staff. They will be happy to show you the many products and solutions that we have available that will help make the air in your home healthier and keep your family safe.