Did you know that the air you breathe indoors can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outdoors? Given that most people spend 90% of their time indoors, according to the EPA, it’s critical to your health and well-being that you do what y
ou can to reduce pollutants in your home environment. Here’s some tips to keeping your home air fresh and clean.
In especially humid regions, or in homes that are prone to moisture seepage in basements or elsewhere, use a dehumidifier to dry up excess moisture and prevent the growth of mold and mildew. Not only do mold and mildew threaten the structure of your home, they pollute the air with spores and toxins that can cause coughing, wheezing and asthma triggered by allergies.
Invest in a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your home – home health experts say the ideal humidity in your home should be about 40%. The kind of humidifier you need will depend on the size of your moisture problem. Small, desiccant-based humidifiers trap water in absorbent crystals, but are only suitable for small areas like closets. Portable dehumidifiers that run on electricity come in a range of sizes, while whole-house systems are available to deal with major moisture problems.
Tip: Air conditioners automatically dehumidify the air as they operate. Look for an AC system that offers a “dehumidify only” option, for when you want to dry out the air without necessarily cooling it.
Keep fresh air circulating through your home to eliminate moisture and flush noxious pollutants from the air.
Moisture collects in your home from multiple sources – bathrooms, kitchens, humidity in the air. Where moisture accumulates, mold and mildew are sure to follow. Exhaust fans that vent outdoors are one of the best ways to quickly get rid of excess moisture in you bathrooms and kitchen.
Install an attic fan to create an upward flow of air through the whole house. Whole-house ventilation systems can be installed – either as part of an air conditioning system or independently – to help air moving freely through your house.
Opening your windows regularly is another way to get rid of toxins and bad odors, and keep the air inside your home fresh and healthy.
Getting rid of the things that emit toxins and allergens in your home is the best solution to keeping your air healthy. But when that’s impossible, an air filter will help you fight for your health by cleaning the impurities from the air so you don’t have to breathe them.
Air conditioners, evaporative coolers and dehumidifiers – portable units as well as whole-house systems – have air filters built into them. The most effective filter available is the HEPA (High-efficiency particulate air) filter, which removes 99% of airborne particles from the air. But any filter or air purifier will help reduce the pollutants in your home. Just remember: filters need to be cleaned regularly in order to be effective.
Want a natural alternative: fill your home with “clean air plants” like English Ivy, Peace Lilies and Boson Ferns. Not only, will they purify your air, but they will also beautify your living space! Just be sure not to let the soil stay too damp, or you could end up with more mold and mildew growing where you least expect it.
Eliminate Toxins at the Source
Of course, the best way to keep your home air clean and breathable is to eliminate toxins at the source. Start by forbidding smoking indoors, to prevent the accumulation of secondhand smoke. Choose paints and products with low volatile organic compounds (low VOCs) – chemicals like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde that seep into the air from paints, varnishes, treated woods and fabrics. Fight dust mites with vacuuming, steam cleaning and regularly laundering bedding in hot water. Avoid wood burning stoves and fireplaces. Avoid chemical pesticides and non-natural cleaning products. And, of course, install monitors for carbon monoxide and radon to protect yourself against these deadly threats.
Your home is your refuge – don’t you deserve the cleanest air possible?