Breathe Deep: Achieving Better Indoor Air Quality


You may be surprised to learn that the air inside your home is often more polluted than that of the great outdoors. If you or your family members suffer from asthma or allergies, the dust mites, pet dander and other irritants common inside homes can make time spent indoors uncomfortable and even unpleasant. Educate yourself about indoor air quality and work to improve yours.

Many Substances Affect Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality isn’t just about dust. You also have to worry about chemicals, like lead from paint in old homes, radon in the basement, formaldehyde, fire retardants and volatile chemicals from fragrances. You also may be inadvertantly bringing pollutants inside; chemicals used in making upholstered furniture can cause allergic reactions, as can any number of irritants easily tracked in on your shoes or clothing. And don’t forget about dust mites, mold and pet dander that develop inside your home.

How Air Quality Affects Health

Poor indoor air quality can lead to numerous problems. For example, certain types of environmental contaminants can cause people with asthma to have more frequent and severe attacks. The presence of allergens can cause people who are sensitive to these to suffer from headaches, congestion and itching or burning eyes. Mold spores in the air can cause respiratory infections and can even be toxic in extreme cases.

Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

  • Source control: Eliminate sources of pollutants inside your home. For example, during pollen season, keep your windows closed to prevent plant matter from blowing in. Other source control techniques include maintaining proper humidity to prevent mold growth and prohibiting smoking inside your home.
  • Better ventilation: Once pollutants make their way into your home, adequate ventilation can help get them back out. For example, install an exhaust fan above your stove that vents to the outside to get rid of smoke from cooking that would otherwise pollute your indoor air.
  • Surface cleaning: Dust regularly with a damp cloth to capture settled air pollutants. Vacuum carpets at least weekly and remember the health benefits of HEPA vacuums, which have a fine filter to keep vacuumed pollutants from being spewed back into the air.
  • Air cleaning: Running the air in your home through filters helps trap small particles polluting the air. Change the filter on your air conditioner or furnace every month or two, especially during peak allergy season. In addition, consider purchasing air cleaning machines that push air through efficient filters.

Benefits of Improving Air Quality

Taking these steps to improve your air quality in your home will reduce the chance of suffering from the health consequences of air pollutants. Family members will likely be less irritated by asthma and allergies. Plus, you’re all less likely to get sick from pollutants in your home.

Now’s the time to consider the quality of your indoor air and make necessary changes to improve air quality. Remember to not only focus on cleaning out pollutants you can see, but also on preventing them from entering your home in the first place and getting rid of them through ventilation. You and your family are likely to experience health benefits in addition to the pleasure of living in a home with plenty of fresh air.