Surveys show that Americans spend more than 90% of their time inside. Unfortunately, concentrations of certain pollutants can be two to five times higher indoors than out.
What are these dangerous indoor pollutants? And how can you protect yourself and your family from these hazards?
Find answers to these questions, including seven concrete steps you can take to ensure you have clean air in your home.
What Are the Most Common Indoor Pollutants?
The pollutants that contaminate the air inside your home can originate from indoor and outdoor sources.
Indoor sources involve the building itself and its inhabitants. Common indoor sources of pollution include:
- Carbon monoxide and particulates from tobacco products, cooking appliances, and fireplaces
- Chemicals, including lead and volatile organic compounds, from cleaning supplies, pesticides, and paint
- Mold, pet dander, and radon
- Asbestos from deteriorating insulation
- Off-gassing chemicals from new construction or remodeling projects
- Viruses and bacteria
Outdoor sources of indoor pollution enter your Old House Remodelling through open windows and doors. Even cracks in your home’s structure can allow outdoor pollutants to enter. Finally, the ventilation system of your home is another entryway for pollutants. Common outdoor sources of indoor air pollution include:
- Chemicals in the soil, like radon, that seep into the home’s foundation
- Chimney smoke from your own chimney or your neighbors’ chimneys
- Volatile chemicals in water used for showering, washing, and cooking
- Soil and dust on the shoes and clothing of a home’s occupants
Seven Steps to Clean Air in Your Home
Protecting yourself from these pollutants is a matter of comfort and health. In fact, it’s a matter of life and death. Many of the above pollutants are known carcinogens. Indoor air pollution can also worsen allergies and trigger asthma attacks. Indoor air pollution may even affect cognition and mental health.
So what can you do to protect yourself and your family?
When the weather permits, open your windows and doors as much as possible. Letting fresh air circulate can improve the quality of the air in your home. It can also improve alertness and productivity.
2. Use an Air Purification System
Opening your windows and doors can improve indoor air quality by letting indoor sources of air pollution, like cooking smoke and harmful chemicals from cleaning products, escape. At the same time, though, it can let outdoor sources of pollution enter your home.
This seems like a catch-22, but with a MERV 13 air purifier, it’s not.
The filter in an air purifier captures the tiny particles that comprise pollutants, removing them from the air before they have a chance to reach your lungs.
Importantly, though, every air filter is not created equal. In fact, MERV, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, ratings indicate the size and, therefore, the number of particles a particular filter can trap. Filters with higher MERV ratings can catch smaller particles and, therefore, a wider range of particles.
MERV 13 filters can trap over 70% of small particles and over 90% of small particles.
Installing one in your home is among the best ways to keep your air clean.
3. Clean Your Air Filters
An air filter will only help you keep your air clean if you take steps to keep the filter clean. This means changing the filter regularly.
Experts recommend changing the filters in your air purifier every three to six months. Most air purifiers alert you at these intervals. If your household includes someone with asthma or allergies, though, you should change the filter even more frequently. Households that include individuals in vulnerable populations should change the filter every one to three months.
4. Vacuum Frequently
Another way to promote clean air in your home is to stay on top of regular chores, like vacuuming. Carpets can trap pet dander, dust mites, and other common allergens.
At a minimum, experts recommend vacuuming your whole home twice a week and high-traffic areas even more frequently. If you have pets, daily vacuuming is ideal, especially if you’re trying to protect a family member with allergies.
5. Choose Your Cleaning and Styling Products Wisely
Aerosol sprays tend to contain chemicals that are toxic to your health and to the environment. Scented products—whether cleaning supplies or beauty supplies—are another common culprit.
Swap these toxic products for more natural and eco-friendly alternatives. Doing so can significantly improve indoor air quality.
6. Opt for Unscented Candles
Nothing creates a cozy vibe like a gently flickering candle. Unfortunately, candles can be another source of indoor air pollution.
Scented candles and candles made from paraffin wax are among the most toxic. So if you love your candles and your lungs, choose unscented candles made from soy wax as a healthy alternative.
7. Use a Range Hood
A range hood or a cooker hood removes harmful particles released into the air when you cook. If you already have one, take advantage of it. Turn it on each time you use your stove.
Maybe you don’t have a range hood, but you have an over-the-range microwave with an exhaust fan. Do these two options function the same in terms of cleaning the air?
Actually, no. Consumer Reports recommends range hoods rather than over-the-range microwaves. They find that range hoods remove significantly more smoke and fumes than even the best microwave exhaust systems.
So if you don’t have a cooker hood, consider installing one. Until you do, by all means, use the exhaust fan on your microwave. Just don’t expect it to perform to the highest standards.
Show Your Family You Care by Taking Steps to Clean Air
Threats to indoor air quality are tiny, but they pack a dangerous and deadly punch.
Ignoring indoor pollutants because you can’t always see them lets these dangerous particles build up. It also prolongs your family’s exposure to allergens, asthma triggers, and carcinogens.
Fortunately, practical measures can ensure you have clean air in your home. Now that you know what these measures are, it’s up to you to take them.
It’s also up to you to stay informed on other ways to keep your family happy and healthy. Count on our blog for the information you need to do just that.