When hearing the words air pollution, many people think of air pollution as something outside – smog, ozone, etc. But only a few know the truth that when you hear the words air pollution, you should think about indoors – homes, offices, etc. Indoor air can be more polluted than the air outside. The air inside your home may be contaminated by lead (in house dust), formaldehyde, fire retardants, radon, volatile chemicals from scents used in standard cleaners. Some pollutants are tracked into the home. Some come via new bedding or furniture, carpet cleaners, or a coat of paint on the walls. In the middle of that also exists dust mites, mold, and pet dander (even if you don’t have pets).
Here Are 5 Easy Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality
1. Keep your floors fresh.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to reduce lead concentrations in your home and eliminate allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. We recommend using a vacuum cleaner with powerful suction, turning brushes, and a HEPA filter to ensure that airborne particles won’t get blown back out in the exhaust. When vacuuming doesn’t forget walls, carpet edges, and furniture, where dust collects. For best results, vacuum two or more times a week and often wash out your filter.
After vacuuming, mop everything. Mopping collects the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You use only water to capture any lingering dust and allergens. The latest microfiber mops capture more dust and dirt than old fibers and don’t require cleaning liquids.
We track all sorts of chemicals by the dirt on our shoes. That’s why you should place a floor mat at the door. A doormat helps to decrease dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into the home.
2. Keep a healthy level of humidity.
Keep humidity between 30 to 50 percent to keep dust mites, mold, and other allergens under control. A dehumidifier helps reduce dampness in the indoor air and effectively regulates allergens. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, here are some other tips on how to decrease humidity in your home (if needed).
- Don’t overwater houseplants.
- Use an exhaust fan or crack open a window when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing.
- Place the clothes dryer outside the home.
- Leaking pipes should be fixed immediately.
3. Don’t smoke inside.
Secondhand smoke holds up to 7,000 chemicals, including trace quantities of poisons like formaldehyde, arsenic, DDT, and cyanide. More than 250 of these chemicals are poisonous, and at least 70 are known to cause cancer.
Secondhand smoke can affect health in many ways. Secondhand smoke can cause heart disease, lung cancer, worsening asthma, asthma-related problems, wheezing, coughing, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Exposure to secondhand smoke while pregnant raises the chance that a woman will have a spontaneous abortion, stillborn birth, low birth-weight baby, and other pregnancy and birth problems. Secondhand smoke quickly affects the heart, blood vessels, and blood circulation in a harmful way.
An alternative is to smoke e-cigarettes. I haven’t tried them but know a few friends who are using them. I hear only positive. There are a lot of e-cigarette sellers nowadays.
4. Test for radon.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today. Radon can have a significant impact on indoor air quality. You can’t see or smell radon because it is colorless odor-free gas. Testing is the only method to identify your level of exposure. Testing is simple, inexpensive, and takes only a few minutes. If you detect a radon problem, there are easy ways to decrease the gas levels that are not too expensive. Even high radon levels can be decreased to acceptable levels.
5. Smell good naturally.
Synthetic scents in laundry products and air fresheners emit dozens of different chemicals into the air. You won’t find their names on the product labels. Regular laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and air fresheners in solid, spray, and oil form may all emit such gasses.
Many fragrances are made from petroleum products. These products haven’t been tested to understand if they have any important adverse health impacts in humans when they are inhaled. The best way is to use alternative products. Try fragrance-free or naturally perfumed laundry products. Use cleaners that don’t include synthetic fragrances. Stop using aerosol sprays – deodorants, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, furniture polish, and air fresheners. Allow the fresh air to come inside. Open windows so toxic substances don’t accumulate in your home. To keep your kitchen clear, use lemons and baking soda. If you don’t have one, then consider keeping plants. We made an article about 9 Indoor Plants That Improve Indoor Air Quality. If you have kids or pets, make sure the plants aren’t poisonous if ingested.