Breathe Easier By Improving Indoor Air Quality

two children sitting on the couch next to their dog playing a game.Where we live, work and play affects our health. Some people spend nearly all of their time indoors. This is especially true during the winter and for young children, the elderly, and people in poor health. Indoor air can be more polluted than outside air. Pollutants include residues from household chemicals, cigarette smoke, wood smoke, mold spores, and dangerous gases. While some pollution can be smelled or seen, two dangerous gases — radon and carbon monoxide — are invisible and odorless.

Here are some tips for keeping indoor air clean:

Keep it dry

Mold grows and thrives under damp, wet and humid conditions. If mold spores, which are present in most homes, grow unchecked, they can be an irritant or cause allergic reactions, especially for people with asthma or other respiratory problems.

What can you do?

  • Repair leaks and remove standing water inside your home.
  • Install exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Vent clothes dryers to the outdoors.
  • Clean, dry, or remove water damaged carpet, wall board, or insulation.
  • Use rain gutters and downspouts to direct water away from the house.

Keep it clean

Household dust often contains insect remains, pet hair/dander and other allergens that may trigger respiratory problems and asthma attacks.

What can you do?

  • Vacuum often using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA air filter.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
  • Wash and dry stuffed toys regularly.
  • If children have asthma, keep pets outside, or at least out of bedrooms.
  • Remove shoes at the door and provide entrance mats to capture dirt.
  • Choose hard-surface flooring that is easy-to-clean.

Keep it ventilated

Proper ventilation reduces the hazards of mold, allergens, volatile organic compounds, radon and carbon monoxide.

What can you do?

  • Properly vent appliances and heating sources to the outdoors.
  • Do not use portable generators; or gas or kerosene space heaters indoors.
  • Never use a gas range or oven to heat the house.
  • If you paint, use hobby supplies, or other chemicals inside your home, open the windows and use a portable fan to remove the noxious air.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors along with smoke alarms near bedrooms.
  • Use a kit sold at hardware stores to test your home for radon gas. If necessary, consult a professional to reduce radon levels.

Keep it contaminant-free

Eliminating tobacco smoke is one of the best ways to reduce indoor air pollution. Secondhand smoke is harmful, especially to children, and is known to increase risks of respiratory infections and lung cancer in non-smokers. Limiting the use of harsh household chemicals can also improve air quality. Household cleaning products, personal care products, pesticides, paints, glues, hobby products and solvents may release harmful chemicals that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and have long-term health effects.

What can you do?

  • Avoid smoking indoors.
  • Avoid household products containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), listed on ingredient labels.
  • Avoid using aerosol sprays indoors.
  • Use household products according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Keep chemical containers well sealed.
  • Purchase products in small quantities to avoid storing leftover chemicals.
  • Use paints, glues, solvents and other harmful chemicals in well-ventilated areas or outdoors.

Using these basic strategies can help improve indoor air quality.


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