Most proponents of environmental sustainability have spent copious amounts of time reading about air pollution, and worrying about the long-term impact on our atmosphere and the health of whole populations. But many people forget that the smog you see floating low over cities isn’t completely relegated to the outdoors. In fact, due to recycled air or open windows, the quality of the atmosphere inside your home can actually be even worse that what’s found outside. Depending on where you live, you could find lead, radon, formaldehyde, pet dander, fire-retardants, mold, or even toxic chemicals left behind from the use of mainstream cleaning products. You often have no control over how this stuff gets in your home, and the accumulation of all of them can significantly impair your health over the years. More and more people are developing asthma, and many of these chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Clearly, it is incredibly important that you reduce their levels in your house at all costs. So here are five of the top ways to improve indoor air quality in your home, each of which you can implement right away.
First of all, keep the floors clean. That all starts by choosing the proper vacuum cleaner. Dust on the floor gathers over time, and it’s usually packed with allergens and toxic chemicals. Make sure you buy a vacuum that has a built-in HEPA filter. Using it regularly will dramatically reduce the amount of lead, fire-retardants and allergens in your home. On top of using a proper vacuum, how you use it is also important. Make sure you go over the same area more than once, especially in the most high traffic areas. And include all the upholstery, the walls, and the edges of any carpets in your regular routine. For maximum results, run your vacuum at least twice a week, and frequently clean out the HEPA filter. Once you’re done with the vacuum, don’t forget about the mop. Regularly mopping your home will make sure you pick up any dust the vacuum didn’t get. Don’t worry about using chemical cleaners. You’ll still get the result you’re looking for just mopping with hot water. Also look into using a microfiber mop, and running it dry across the floor. It will pick up even more, without any cleaners required.
The next step will be to maintain the proper level of humidity inside. The more moist the air, the greater the amount of mold and dust mites you’ll find. The sweet spot is a humidity level of 30% to 50%. If you live in a moist climate, use a dehumidifier. Also make sure the windows are open when you are cooking or showering, and stay on top of any plumbing issues to make sure there isn’t any standing water hanging around.
Even if you are a cigarette smoker, you should keep it outside. There are more than 4,000 chemicals present in cigarette smoke, and that causes all types of problems when contained inside your walls. Do your best to get the support you need to quit, but if you continue to smoke, make sure you’re doing it outdoors.
You’ll also want to test for radon. Radon can occur in a home regardless of the year of construction. Radon has no color or odor, and can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer. It’s generally found in the soil, and can cause problems regardless of what else you do to your home. Hire a company to do a test, and address it if a problem is found.
Finally, avoid those spray air fresheners. All of those synthetic fragrances throw chemicals into the environment that could be toxic. Any asbestos lawyer will tell you that these chemicals are not listed on the package, and you’ll have no recompense if health issues arrive. Try to use unscented products whenever possible, and throw away any aerosol sprays in the home.