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Improving Indoor Air Quality

Improving Indoor Air Quality

Last time we talked about contaminants that can impair indoor air quality.  Here we will discuss ways you can improve indoor air quality, which will result in better health and can also preserve your home.

To review, contaminants include the following:

  1. Mold spores.
  2. Bacteria.
  3. Viruses
  4. Pollen
  5. Gasses that enter homes from the infiltration of polluted outdoor air.  
  6. Particles such as dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.

Following are some strategies to improve indoor air quality. 

  1. No smoking.  Perhaps the single m most important thing for you to do is to prohibit smoking in your house.  Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals and second hand smoke is especially unhealthy for children.
  2. Keep your floors clean.  Many contaminants make a home on your floor, and can accumulate for decades.  Start by putting floor mats at every door and have people wipe their shoes before entering your home.  Better yet, have them take their shoes off.  Vacuum the floor a few times a week with a vacuum cleaner that has strong suction, rotating brushes and a HEPA filter.   After you vacuum, mop to pick up the dust the vacuum cleaner did not get.  
  3. Keep humidity between 30% and 50%.  The best way to do this is to buy a dehumidifier.  Here are some other ways to keep humidity under control:
    a. Crack a window when cooking, running the dishwasher or bathing
    b. Vent the clothes dryer to the outside
    c. Empty drip pans in your window air conditioner and dehumidifier
    d. Do not overwater plants
    e. Fix leaky plumbing to prevent mold
  4. Test for radon.  Radon is a radioactive gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer.  It generally enters the home through cracks and holes in the foundation.  If your home has radon, contact a professional abatement company.
  5. Be careful with fragrances.  Those lemon and pine scents in everything from laundry products to air fresheners may emit dozens of gasses.  Here are some things you can do:
    a. Avoid aerosol sprays
    b. Buy fragrance-free or naturally scented products
    c. Use mild cleaners that do not have artificial fragrances
    d. Use sliced lemons and baking soda to create a fresh scent…safely
    e. Open  the windows to let in fresh air
  6. Clean and/or replace your furnace air filter.  One-inch air filters should be cleaned or replaced monthly; thicker metal filters every six months.  
  7. Install a recovery ventilator.  This device constantly replaces a small percentage of the air in your home with fresh air from the outside.

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*Based on research conducted January - August 2016