Polluted Air, Poor Health, Practical Tips

Polluted air. Poor health. Practical tips.

 

Modern houses offer their inhabitants reductions in energy costs thanks to efficient windows and weather sealing, basically keeping everything air-tight.  Sounds great, right? Wrong!  Turns out, the air in our houses is many times more polluted than the air outside, and this pollution is being recognized as a major cause of respiratory-related health issues. Symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, upper respiratory congestion and more can be caused by this indoor air in which we spend ~90% of our time.  Inevitably, indoor air pollution can’t be avoided; ultrafine particles and nitrogen dioxide produced from indoor cooking, mold spores, and formaldehyde released from insulation, carpets, and particleboard, just to name a few.  And most of these pollutants can’t be detected by sight or smell, and so go unnoticed, building up over time to unhealthy levels. 

The good news is that Indoor Air Quality CAN be managed to reduce the negative impacts on health.  Here are a few suggestions...

 

Bring in some green

Back in the 80’s, NASA found that certain plants helped remove contaminants from the air. Plants “breathe in” these pollutants through tiny pores in their leaves, eventually transporting these chemicals to their roots where they are degraded and become a food source for the plant.  Aloe, spider plant, and golden pothos are a few of the more common houseplants that scientists have found to be natural air purifiers.  Check out this article at Mother Nature Network for a list of 15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality. These benefits notwithstanding, use of such plants should be carefully managed to ensure that the potentially detrimental build up bacteria and molds in the soil is prevented. If allowed to develop, the allergenic effects of such toxins can outweigh the air cleansing benefits of these plants.

Keep your floors clean

The chemicals found in many household products (as well as other allergens) accumulate and concentrate as dust. That is why it is important to clean your floors on a regular basis. Yes, it does mean you need to pull out that vacuum and mop on a regular basis, and while you’re at it, we strongly recommend that you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which helps remove most airborne particles, helping clean the air while you clean the floors.  

Reduce humidity levels

High moisture levels are like Disney World to some allergens, including mold and dust mites, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on relative humidity. We recommend maintaining a humidity level between 30-50%.  Dehumidifiers and air conditioners help keep these levels under control and can be used interchangeably depending on the season.

Ventilation

Outdoor air is often much cleaner than indoor air. In fact, indoor air can contain 2 to 5 times more contaminants than outdoor air, and in some cases, more than 100 times more. If possible, remember to crack open the windows once in awhile to allow your home to breathe. This is especially important when cleaning using many household products, while cooking and bathing, and should be practiced as much as possible on a regular basis.  Sometimes, there’s no substitute for clean, outdoor air!

What are some of your tips for keeping your indoor air healthy?  We’d love to hear from you!

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