Winter may be a great time to “hibernate”, but if the air inside your home isn’t up to par, then it’s time to follow some tips to improve and maintain the quality of the air you breath. These tips will be especially helpful for sufferers of asthma, children and the elderly, but of course all members of the household will benefit from cleaner air! According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is typically more polluted than the air outside. “Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.”
Reduce indoor contaminants by:
- Changing filters in forced-air heating systems every 3 months, or when they become dirty, whichever comes first.
- Cleaning and freshening the air with non-toxic products. See my earlier posts on inexpensive, home-made cleaners here and here.
- Avoiding harmful VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, if you’re sprucing up the house with paint. Low-VOC paint and paint that contains zero VOCs are readily available and can be color matched just like any other paint.
- Making sure combustion appliances, like gas stoves, fireplaces, boilers, and furnaces are working properly.
- Regularly cleaning, dusting and vacuuming to reduce allergens such as dust mites and pet hair & dander.
- Fixing plumbing leaks and getting rid of excess moisture, in the bathroom, kitchen and basement. Throw away items that have been contaminated with mold and mildew, and thoroughly clean surfaces, such as bathroom tiles, that have become moldy and mildewy. Make sure exhaust fans vent to the outdoors.
- Eliminating secondhand smoke in your home (and car).
- Being aware of sources of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and toxic gas that causes health effects which are often mistaken for the flu. Install carbon monoxide detectors in living spaces.
- Testing your home for cancer-causing radon, a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that can enter a home through cracks and openings in floors and walls that are in contact with the ground. Testing your home is simple and inexpensive.