The Air You Breathe
Did you know that the air quality in your home affects your health? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, so each of us is more susceptible to indoor pollution than outdoor pollution. Keeping the air in your home fresh and pollutant free is also the best way to reduce the chances of mold growing inside, besides of course making sure your home is free from water to prevent mold growth.
Our homes suffer from pollution due to the gases and particles that are released from the everyday tasks we perform and from the appliances we use. Homes with poor ventilation are even more susceptible to pollution because the air does not recycle itself. Pollutants are unavoidable so you must make sure that the air in your home has movement.
Air pollution inside your home comes from several sources. Combustible appliances such as gas stoves, furnaces, and hot water heaters, fireplaces, oil and kerosene lanterns, wood and tobacco products. Pollutants even come from building materials, home furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, cleaning products, pesticides, even hairspray and cooking sprays.
If you or a member of your family has irritated eyes, nose, or throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, and your family seems to always be sick, these illnesses may not be cause by H1N1 – your home many actually making you sick. While the symptoms appear the same as a cold, illness caused by air pollutants progress over time and make respiratory conditions such as asthma, worse. Keeping your home clean and dust free aids in keeping the pollutants at bay. The next action would be to eliminate sources of combustible pollutants, but then it would be very cold in the winter! When possible, the EPA recommends bringing fresh air into the home when possible. Enclosed heating and cooling system do not bring in fresh air from outside, like window fans and air conditioners do. Crack a window when weather permits.
Chicago building code requires that bathrooms either have a window within or an exhaust fan to suck out pollutants and moist air directly to the outdoors. Bathroom exhaust fans not only remove air pollutants, but also remove moist air that can cause mold and mildew to grow.
Make sure that your dryer vent is properly vented to the outdoors and clean annually for maximum efficiency. For central heating and cooling systems, have the systems and the air ducts in your home cleaned annually. Consider replacing your mechanical system with an energy efficient, heat recovery system which pulls in outdoor air and converts it to heat. These systems are also called air-to-heat-exchangers.
From inexpensive table-top to whole house systems, air cleaners are becoming common appliances in homes. Air cleaners pull in ambient air and pass it through a filter that removed the pollutants. The result is clean air filtered back out the system, but are not designed to remove gas pollutants.
Other ways to minimize pollutants in your home is to replace your cleaning products with natural, plant based ones. These cleansers are better for the environment and for your pipes. A recent, popular, and inexpensive way to bring clean air into your home is through house plants. While we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, plants take in carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. Fill your home with more oxygen with a houseplant in every room. Keep your family well with a clean and fresh home.