Indoor air pollution is a growing problem across the U.S. In recent years, studies have revealed that indoor air can pose greater health risks than outdoor air. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce these risks. Here are four simple methods for improving your home’s air quality.
Keep Your Floors Clean
Everyday activities release chemicals and allergens into the air, some of which accumulate in household dust. One way to remove these pollutants is to use a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. This is particularly important in older homes, which may contain lead-contaminated dust. Another way is to put an absorbent floor mat at every door to prevent dirt and other pollutants from entering your home.
Maintain Healthy Humidity Levels
Excess moisture supports the growth of mold, dust mites and other allergens that can aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms. Maintaining a humidity level of around 60 percent helps to keep allergens under control. A whole house ventilation system improves indoor air quality by expelling damp, polluted air from your basement and crawl spaces and replenishing it with drier air from the upper levels.
Prohibit Smoking in Your Home
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, several of which are known to cause health problems. Children are particularly at risk from the effects of secondhand smoke: research reveals that secondhand smoke increases a child’s risk of ear and respiratory infections, asthma, cancer and sudden infant death syndrome. Prohibiting smoking in your home is the only way to eliminate secondhand smoke from your indoor environment, because homes with smoke-free policies have lower levels of airborne particulate matter compared to those in buildings without these policies.
Test for Radon
Radon is a radioactive gas formed from the natural breakdown of uranium, a chemical found in rocks, soil and water. It moves from the ground to the air above and into your home through cracks in foundations and gaps around joints and vents. Sometimes it can contaminate your well water. Once inside your home, radon can build up to dangerous levels – particularly in basements and crawlspaces, which are often poorly ventilated. Any home can develop a radon problem – it doesn’t matter how old or airtight your home is or whether your home has a basement or crawl space. The only way to detect radon in your home is to test for it. You can purchase a do-it-yourself test kit or hire a professional to test on your behalf.