When you think of air pollution, you probably imagine the pollution from cars on the road, or factories spewing smoke and other pollutants into the air. However, did you know that air pollution inside your very home is just as bad or even worse than the pollution outside?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the top five air quality problems in the United States are all indoor pollutants. These include excessive moisture, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), tobacco products, fuel-burning combustion products, radon, pesticides, dust particles, viruses, and bacteria.
We are exposed more to these indoor pollutants and allergens the longer we stay indoors. Many homes are also designed with small windows due to central air conditioning, and these designs make it difficult for the pollutants to escape.
Young children, the elderly, and those with conditions like asthma are especially vulnerable to these pollutants, and while the effects may not be immediate, they could experience medical conditions down the road. It’s time to take stock of your home and begin improving indoor air quality. Here are some steps you can take:
Switch to natural and plant-based household cleaners
While they may smell nice, synthetic fragrances in cleaners, laundry products, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, air fresheners, and other aerosol sprays can emit dozens of chemicals into the air.
Many product labels do not disclose all ingredients, hiding some under the label of ‘fragrance’. One example of chemicals found in fragrances is phthalates, a hormone disruptor. Ditch the chemical-based products and switch to natural cleaners with mild fragrance or totally fragrance-free.
Throw open those windows
If outdoor air is not able to enter a room, pollutants could accumulate to levels that can pose risks to your health. Unfortunately, there are homes with central air conditioning that are designed to minimize the amount of outdoor air coming in. These homes may have higher levels of pollutants compared to homes with wide windows and good ventilation. Throw open your windows and let those toxic chemicals escape.
Take care of the dust
House dust can have chemicals and allergens in them. Outdoor dust, laced with lead, can be tracked into the house. Vacuum your home often, including walls, upholstered furniture, and carpets. Wash curtains regularly. Don’t forget to clean the doormats as they hold a lot of dust and allergens. Use an air filter for your air conditioners and vacuum cleaners that catch dust and other allergens instead of blowing them right back out through the exhaust.
Keep humidity at a healthy level
Mold and dust mites thrive in humidity. A dehumidifier or air conditioner helps reduce moisture indoors and keeps allergens under control. An air conditioner can also control the amount of pollen indoors.