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Indoor air: What are you sealing in?



 Indoor air: What are you sealing in?

Experts agree: when you close up the house for winter, you may well be closing yourself in with unseen airborne particles. Learn the sources that contribute to poor indoor air quality in a tightly sealed home.

Indoor air: What are you sealing in?

Experts agree: When you close up the house for winter, you may well be closing yourself in with unseen airborne particles. There are many sources that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Some are surprising, and some are unavoidable.

For instance, cooking. As sources of combustion, your stove and oven are sources of pollution. Plus, there are byproducts of the cooking process itself that can cause pollutants to build up.

Cabinetry, furniture and your home's building materials themselves can off-gas pollutants if they are made of processed wood products.

And of course there are intermittent sources of pollution: Cleaning fluids, personal care items, candles and fireplace smoke, and the use of other household chemicals. High concentrations of particles can remain in the air long after you cease these activities or stop using these products.

So, what are you to do? Stop cooking? Stop burning the candle – at any end?

Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take that are effective without being lifestyle-changing:

  • While being aware of energy efficiency and comfort, allow some outdoor air to infiltrate your house during colder months. Your house needs to "breathe as much as you do!"
  • Make sure all appliances, from stove to furnace, are properly adjusted, clean and well vented. Install and use exhaust fans in the kitchen, bathroom and hobby areas. Have combustible appliances professionally inspected every year.
  • Choose furniture and cabinetry with no or minimal processed wood materials such as oriented strandboard.
  • Keep candle-burning and fireplace use to a minimum, such as for special occasions. Make sure your fireplace is clean, and adjusted and used properly. Better yet, switch to a gas burning or electric fireplace.
  • Use effective filtration wherever possible. 3M makes a full line of Filtrete™ air quality products that help remove various airborne particles from the air as it passes through the filter.

As you can see, all it takes is a little thought and common sense. If you have any questions, want a home check-up or specific testing and advice, you can contact your local utility company or the E.P.A. for help.