Americans are spending more and more time indoors. Our homes should be a place of refuge, but unfortunately, many times the air in our home may not be as clean as we think. The EPA states that indoor air pollutants may be 2-5 times, and in some cases, more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels. With this in mind, it is important to consider the impact of poor indoor air quality in our homes and learn how to improve the air we breathe every day.
What is Indoor Air Quality and How Does It Affect Me?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality in a structure and how it affects a person’s health and comfort. Effects of poor indoor air include itchy, watering eyes, an irritated nose, and throat. Air pollutants can cause health issues that lead to chronic heart, and lung disease as well as cancer.
“Like the lungs, homes need to be able to breathe to make sure that fresh air comes in and dirty air goes out.” – American Lung Association
What Causes Poor Air Quality?
Some of the more common indoor pollutants are wood smoke, tobacco smoke, gas-burning utilities, radon gas, mold, allergens, and even insects such as cockroaches. Inadequate ventilation, high temperatures and humidity can also increase the poor air quality issue.
How Can I Improve My Indoor Air Quality?
Many air pollutants can be drastically reduced by proper ventilation with helpful tools such as exhaust fans, dehumidifiers and air conditioners. Be sure to clean your equipment regularly so they don’t become a cause of pollution.
Avoid using air fresheners and candles to hide odors. Cleaning the source of the odor and good ventilation is a better solution. Use less toxic household cleaners and don’t store hazardous chemicals in your home.
Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your home. Ask smokers to go outside.
Add houseplants to your decor. The NASA Clean Air Study suggests that some indoor plants may provide a natural way of removing toxic agents and leaving our homes with cleaner air.
Mold and your IAQ
The presence of mold has a huge effect on your IAQ. Mold thrives in a moist environment. If you control the moisture, you control the mold.
Proper ventilation is also essential to prevent moisture buildup and mold in high humidity areas. Be sure to install and use exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen. Eliminate water sources by repairing leaks right away and quickly drying out any flooded areas. Consider applying a moisture/mold barrier, such as UltraBan, to protect against future mold growth. We can make our homes a safer place with increased education and a little extra effort.