Many of us are not even aware that our homes harbor many air pollutants that can lead to lung cancer, asthma, and many other severe health conditions. While there is legislation to reduce exposure to pollution in the workplace, it is unlikely we apply the same air quality standards in our homes. The air fresheners you use to mask various odors, dusty furniture and a poorly ventilated kitchen are way bigger threats to your health than you could ever imagine.
Luckily, teaching your home to breathe better is not as tricky as it seems. Improving indoor air quality is a child’s play if you can identify the pollutant culprits. Here are few easy steps to reduce indoor air pollution.
1. Keep humidity in check
If humidity level in the home is more than 50%, dust mites and molds will become a serious problem and you could be exposed to many respiratory problems. To keep the humidity level down:
- Ensure proper ventilation in damp areas.
- Use humidifiers to relieve unwanted humidity.
- Regularly check chimneys for cracks that could allow fumes into house.
Also, use the exhaust fans in the bathroom to reduce your exposure to humidity. Just ensure that exhaust fans do not draw too much air out. Otherwise, it will lead to a negative-pressure situation which can reverse the flow of combustion gases and draw dangerous carbon monoxide or nitrogen dioxide into your home.
2. Look after bad odors
Reduce odors rather than masking them. Use a box of baking soda rather than air fresheners. Develop a habit to find the source of bad smells and clean it up. Foods that cause odors should be thrown immediately in an outside bin. Don’t let leftovers rot indoors as they produce bad smells and gases that affect the air quality.
3. Pay attention to furnishing
The main problem that modern homes face is that of inadequate ventilation. Since concrete tends to ‘trap’ rather than ‘repel’ dust and other suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the house, it is impossible to have a zero-dust environment. What you can do is ventilate the house twice a month. Open all the doors and windows, take out all the ‘dust-traps’ – like doormats, floor mats, carpets and curtains – and thoroughly clean them. You should:
- Use a doormat to stop dirt from entering into your home.
- Encase your pillows and mattresses to discourage dust mites.
- Use high-efficiency bags for your vacuum cleaner.
- Replace carpet with tile or wood flooring (if someone living in the home has asthma).
- Use rugs that can be cleaned on a regular basis if you cannot do away with carpeting.
If you are remodeling your home, your job becomes easier. Replacing plastic or wood-fiber paneling, which may emit formaldehyde and increases chances of getting cancer is important. Make sure that your home re-engineer is using gypsum board, plaster, or real wood for walls instead.
4. Be careful with household products
Be mindful about cleaning products, paints, solvents, and pesticides. Paint can release trace gases for months after its application, so use paint without volatile organic compounds. Instead, use water-based paints. Use a fan to blow strong odors and fumes out of your home. Refrain from lighting candles at home too. Remember, if it makes your breathing heavy and laborious, then any product, however ‘world-class’ and ‘high-end’, is not worth the health risk.
5. Pay attention to small details
Smoking outside the home can prevent 65% of asthma cases among kids. This is one of the reasons not to smoke or allow others to do so in your home. You should also:
- Insulate the loft.
- Buy furniture made from recycled materials.
- Choose wood-framed windows (a natural insulator).
- Buy energy efficient windows and doors.