When you hear about air pollution, most people think of cities thick with smog. However, indoor pollution is also concerning, maybe even more so because we spend about 87 percent of our time indoors. The good news is there are simple ways to improve indoor air quality.
1. Improve Indoor Air Quality with an Air Purifier
Unless you live in a highly polluted area, an easy way to improve indoor air quality is with fresh air. Open your windows whenever possible, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day.
When weather prevents opening windows, using an air purifier is a great strategy. There are many sizes and types for your home and your budget. Purifiers range from small, portable models to whole-house units. Before installing a whole-house purifier, have your home’s ductwork cleaned by a professional.
2. Maintain Low Humidity
Moisture invites mold, dust mites, and other allergens that affect indoor air quality. Fix leaky pipes, empty window AC unit drip pans, and don’t overwater house plants. Use an exhaust fan or open a window when cooking, bathing, or running the dishwasher. Dehumidifiers and air conditioners reduce moisture in the air and limit allergens. Aim for around 30 to 50 percent humidity in the home.
3. Keep Clean Floors to Improve Indoor Air Quality
A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter helps remove pollutants and allergens that accumulate in the home. Include upholstered furniture in your vacuuming routine, and vacuum two or three times a week. After vacuuming, mop hard floors with plain water to catch left-behind dust and other irritants. Use floor mats at all exterior doors and encourage family members and guests to remove their shoes upon entry.
4. Use Natural Fragrances and Cleaners
Although those lemon and pine scents smell clean, synthetic fragrances in products and air fresheners emit chemicals into the air. One study revealed that a certain air freshener emitted up to 20 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), seven of which were regulated as hazardous by federal standards. The label only includes the word “fragrance,” which is considered to be a trade secret. Switch to fragrance-free or naturally scented home cleaning products or make your own. You can also find DIY recipes for non-toxic cleaners using things like lemons, vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.
5. Get Tested for Radon
No matter the age or location of your home, you should have it tested for radon. This colorless, odorless gas is second only to cigarette smoking as a cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Radon seeps from the ground as uranium breaks down and enters your home through cracks or other openings in the foundation. A professional can test your home for radon and help mitigate high levels of the gas.
6. Never Smoke Indoors
Eliminating cigarette smoke is an important way to improve indoor air quality. The smoke from cigarettes contains thousands of chemicals. For children, this means an increased risk of developing asthma, ear and respiratory infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Improve the air quality in your home by making it a no-smoking zone. If you have friends or family members who smoke, create a place for them to smoke outdoors that’s well away from doors and windows.