Improving Indoor Air Quality
Our homes harbor more than just our families and possessions. Home is also where pollutants, allergens, and other irritants accumulate and thrive, with possible harmful effects on our health. However, there are some simple steps homeowners can take to improve the air quality at home and increase their comfort and well-being.
High humidity is one of the main contributors to mold and dust mite growth, both of which adversely affect indoor air quality. Keeping indoor humidity below 50% will help prevent further infestation, although once mold gets established it can continue to grow even at lower humidity levels. To reduce humidity in the home, use ventilation fans in kitchens and bathrooms, make sure the dryer is properly vented to the outdoors, and address any leaks or condensation issues. Consider using a dehumidifier in especially humid locations such as basements, which typically have poor air circulation and are prone to dampness. Dehumidifiers should be set up so that the collected water can drain properly.
Collect the Dust
Reducing dust in the home can also improve air quality. Dust has many ingredients and can include pollen, mold spores, soil particles, lint, skin flakes, animal dander and even bacteria. While it’s impossible to completely rid a home of dust, there are ways to control it. Purchase a quality vacuum cleaner and use it regularly. Try a vacuum with a HEPA filter that traps small particulate matter and keeps it from being blown back into the room. Use dusting cloths that collect and trap particles on furniture, light fixtures and ceiling fans. Change or clean furnace filters regularly, according to manufacturer’s instructions. High-quality furnace filters are more expensive than ordinary types, but are more effective at filtering dust, pet hair, and other particles. Make sure air intake registers are kept clean as well.
Go Ahead and Vent
Opening doors and windows whenever possible can also help with indoor air quality. The home will have better air circulation and “breathe” more easily, and of course homeowners will enjoy the fresh air on a nice day. Blinds, shutters and drapes should be dusted regularly to prevent incoming breezes from blowing more particulates into the home.
Many cleaning products are available in less-toxic and environmentally friendly formulations. In fact, many “green” cleaners and detergents now do an equal or better job than their conventional counterparts. Dispose of old paint, pesticides, and other products so they aren’t leaking fumes into the home. Homeowners should check with their trash collection provider for instructions on how to properly dispose of such items. Check for leaks or damage to packaged household products such as cleaners and solvents, and dispose of accordingly.
By taking these relatively easy steps, homeowners can truly help make their home a breath of fresh air.
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