We tend to hear a lot about outdoor air pollution these days, especially since wildfires and climate change are hot topics on the news, but how many of you frequently -- or ever! -- give thought to the level of air pollution INSIDE your home? It seems that homeowners rarely think about the air quality in their homes, and many have no idea that air pollution inside the home is oftentimes as bad as or even worse than the pollution outside.
What causes indoor air pollution?
Believe it or not, the greatest cause of indoor air pollution is asbestos, which is found in some building materials used in older homes. Other common causes of unclean air are household products and cleaning supplies, tobacco smoke, mold and mildew, and toxic gasses such as radon and carbon monoxide. Building materials can also contain formaldehyde and lead, leading to an increase in indoor air pollution.
How can you tell if the air inside your home is toxic?
Indoor air pollutants can cause a myriad of not-so-good symptoms in homeowners, so a major clue that you are in need of an indoor air quality test is that one or more of your home's inhabitants is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
*Sinus issues, sneezing, or coughing
*An increase in asthma or breathing problems
*Skin issues, such as hives or unusually dry, itchy skin
If you or a family member is experiencing any of these symptoms, it's probably a good idea to call a local home inspector or environmental specialist to perform an air quality test in your home. This test will help to identify what pollutants you're dealing with in your home -- and more specifically, where these pollutants are hanging out.
What steps can you take to improve the air quality in your home?
Now, most importantly, what specifically can you do to improve your air quality and ensure that you and your family members are breathing the cleanest air possible inside your home? First and foremost, it's important to regularly clean and/or change all of the obvious -- and not-so-obvious -- filters in your home. Your HVAC system will likely need a new filter monthly or every other month, and other appliances in your home, such as the vacuum cleaner and clothes dryer, might also require regular filter maintenance.
Next, clean those air ducts! We tend to forget that all of the air ducts in the home are responsible for circulating warm and cold air to all areas of the home. As a result, they tend to pick up lots of dirt, debris, mold, and other contaminants from all of the air flowing through them on a regular basis. Thus, it's a great idea to hire a reputable HVAC service provider on an annual basis to ensure that air is flowing properly throughout the house and to clean out those ducts.
An easy way to increase the quality of your indoor air is to regularly vacuum all rugs and carpets in your home. Homeowners (and pets) can bring lots of dirt, dust, and debris into the home by way of their shoes and feet. The fibers in carpets and rugs also tend to grab onto dust and debris from the surrounding air, so even if you have a "no shoes in the house" rule, they will require regular cleaning and vacuuming.
In order to keep mold and mildew levels down, you should keep an eye on humidity levels in your area. Better yet, if you know that you live in a particularly humid
climate, go ahead and place quality de-humidifiers in your home in order to maintain a consistent level of moisture throughout the year.
Believe it or not, one of the best -- and cheapest -- ways to maintain pure, clean air in your home is to put houseplants throughout the living space. Plants will work as mini air filters, continuously pulling contaminants out of the air. That's a great reason to make a trip to your local nursery or garden center today!
As we mentioned up above, the safest way to ensure that your home's air is free of major pollutants is to hire a local professional to perform an indoor air quality test. This will give you a good idea of what you are dealing with in terms of contaminants -- and most importantly -- how to effectively deal with them so that you and your family members are breathing the cleanest air possible on a regular basis!