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Healthy Home Tips: How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

When we hear about air pollution, we immediately think of images of factories spewing out dark toxic smog, cars belching out black smoke, and hazy afternoons in Los Angeles also pop up in our heads. Yes, these are all common instances of air pollution occurring all around our world. But most of the time, we forget about the form of air pollution which has the most direct effect on you and your children’s health - indoor air pollution.

Indoor air pollution can be in the form of common allergens and irritants from the chemicals you use in your home to the common dust mites, molds, second-hand smoke, even radon. Being aware of indoor air pollution is very important, especially for families with children, elderly members and pets who are more sensitive to indoor pollutants and their harmful effects.

Of course, awareness is just the appetizer for the main-course: the solution. There are no ultimate methods to completely eradicate indoor air pollution, however the following are some simple tips to help you alleviate the risks and for a healthier home:

Eliminate any possible sources of indoor air pollution.

Possible sources of indoor air pollution may include dust mites, mold, pet dander, and volatile organic compounds found in common home cleaners. The best advice that could possibly be given is for you to clean on a regular basis using non-toxic products, dispose of harmful chemicals such as paint and pesticides and minimize the use of carpets and rugs which are known to harbor insects and dust mites.

Use a HEPA air purifier.

High-Efficiency Particulate Absorption (HEPA) air purifiers are capable of removing up to 99.97% of airborne particulates from the air. Basically, the use of a portable HEPA air purifier reduces mold spores, pollen, dander and dust particles, along with helping to minimize the risk of the spread of airborne bacteria and viruses that can cause infections. HEPA filters are compromised of densely woven, borosilicate fibers that are arranged in such a way that air is able to pass through the media, while the fine particles become trapped for good.

Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner.

HEPA vacuums boast of stronger-than-average suction power, as well as a HEPA filter, the most effective air filtration system available. Vacuum the most visited areas in your home several times a week. Don't forget carpets, walls, corners, upholstered furniture and other places where dust could accumulate. For best results, vacuum your home at least twice per week.

Keep indoor humidity at healthy levels.

Dust mites and mold love to thrive in high-moisture areas. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% prevents possible mold growth. You can use a dehumidifier to help reduce indoor air moisture. Other possible methods of maintaining healthy humidity levels include the use of air conditioners. Air conditioners help regulate room temperature and humidity. In addition to that, your air conditioning unit will also probably have a filtration system to help filter out dust and pollen. Other easy ways of controlling humidity levels include having air vents or exhaust fans in your bathroom, kitchen, and washing area to keep moisture from being trapped.

Strictly no smoking indoors.

Second-hand cigarette smoke is undoubtedly the most common form of indoor air pollution. Smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are harmful: including benzene and nicotine. Second-hand smoke increases the risk of developing respiratory illnesses in your home. For the smoker, smoking may also lead to cancer, difficulty in breathing and stroke.

Maintain a natural indoor fragrance.

Many of you use commercial air fresheners for your homes. However, that lemony, menthol or strawberry scent is usually accommodated by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can be toxic as they are mostly derived from petroleum products. These compounds are not usually found on product labels. It is therefore best to use more natural fragrances. Put plants and flowers into your homes and don't forget to water them regularly.

Improve your air today.

You can also have a significant impact by performing an objective assessment of your home. A shelf of knickknacks, for instance, may look beautiful, but it provides a lot of surface area for dust, and those carpets may feel great, but hardwood floors would be much more sanitary. It’s also crucial that you vet all of the products, particularly the consumable ones that you bring into the home. Ongoing air quality management can be a lot of work, but you can reduce the amount of work substantially by being organized and making wise consumer decisions.

Resource:

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - Harvard Environmental Health & Safety

The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality