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Three Strategies for Improving Indoor Air Quality



Even if your home looks fresh and clean, indoor air pollution could be creating health risks for you and your family.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality can be adversely affected when pollution sources release gases or particles into the air in your home*.

Know the Key Culprits Affecting Indoor Air Quality

The American Lung Association reports that a variety of substances can affect indoor air quality. Take a look at these indoor air pollutants and the common sources for them in your home*.

Biological Pollutants. Composed of living things (or produced by living things), common biological pollutants are mold, dust mites, pet dander, cockroach droppings or their body parts, rodents, insects, viruses and bacteria.

Secondhand Smoke. Created when tobacco is burned in cigarettes, cigars and pipes, secondhand smoke can worsen asthma symptoms and can increase the incidence of bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in children.

Combustion Pollutants. Gases or airborne particles created by burning materials such as wood, oil, gas, kerosene and coal, common combustible pollutants can come from gas stoves, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, water heaters and clothes dryers.

Radon. A radioactive gas that occurs naturally, radon can seep into your home through cracks in the foundation or walls that are in contact with the soil, with health consequences from long-term exposure.

Asbestos. A mineral fiber desirable for its strength and heat-resistant properties, asbestos is known to cause lung cancer and other serious lung conditions. Common sources of asbestos in the home are in roofing shingles, ceiling tiles and various heat-resistant fabrics, coatings and packaging.

Chemical Pollutants. A significant source of formaldehyde in the home comes from pressed-wood products made with urea-formaldehyde (UF) resin, such as particle board, hardwood plywood paneling and medium-density fiberboard used in furniture, cabinetry, sub-flooring, paneling and shelving. Numerous other harsh chemicals are used in everyday cleaning products, paints, hobby glues and solvents, pool and garden chemicals, personal care products and air fresheners.

 

Achieve Healthier Indoor Air We could come into contact with dozens of pollutants before we even have our first cup of coffee each morning, but there are steps you can take to reduce the pollutants in your home. Implement these three simple strategies to improve indoor air quality and you'll be well on your way to helping create a healthier home:

      1.) Control Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

    • Run kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to remove odors and prevent moist conditions that encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Vent fans to the outside whenever possible.
    • For your next home improvement project, use "low VOC" paint to reduce the level of toxic off-gassing from the drying paint.
    • Clean gutters and downspouts to prevent black mold buildup, which can spread onto the roof, siding and, eventually, into interior walls.

      2.) Ensure Proper Ventilation Throughout the Home

    • Improve air circulation in the crawl space under your home to prevent the growth of toxic mold or rot. Ensure that enclosed crawl spaces have adequate air vents and that both open and enclosed crawl spaces have ventilation fans to improve air circulation.
    • Keep humidity levels in your home at 30–50 percent to prevent moist conditions that can lead to unhealthy mold and mildew.
    • For new construction, ensure that your home has sufficient cold air returns. Ensure that exterior landscaping is placed far enough away from the home to allow sufficient airflow along the foundation when plants are fully grown.

      3.) Utilize Filtration Tools to Reduce Impurities

    • Install a Filtrete Healthy Living furnace filter from 3M, which uses electrostatic technology to trap more indoor air pollutants, such as dust, pollen, dust mites, pet dander and other particulates.
    • Use your HVAC system as a whole-house air purifier by running it on the fan setting when it is not being used for heating or cooling.
    • Exploit the natural filtration properties of houseplants. They create oxygen by absorbing carbon dioxide along with benzene, formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals**. Plants such as English ivy, spider plant, philodendron, mum, rubber plant and weeping fig are common houseplants recognized for their filtering abilities***.

By being aware of the sources of indoor air pollution and taking simple steps to reduce or eliminate them, you can be well on your way to enjoying fresher, healthier air in your home.