Clear the Air
While most Americans are aware of the fact that outdoor air pollution and high levels of ozone can contribute to health problems, many don’t realize the air they breathe inside their own homes can also have a significant impact on their health and overall sense of well-being.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside the average home is up to five times more polluted than the air outside. Airborne particles, like dust and pet dander, chemical vapors, and biological pollutants like mold and bacteria and can lead to unhealthy conditions inside the home.
In fact, the EPA has identified poor indoor air quality as one of the top five most urgent environmental risks to public health.
Whether you suffer from allergies or asthma, have a house full of young children or take care of elderly parents, it’s important to ensure the air inside your home is free of pollution to help prevent health problems.
Although the methods for improving indoor air quality can vary depending on the issues involved, such as whether a family member suffers from allergies or asthma, it doesn’t require a lot of time or energy to make an immediate impact. You can improve the air you breathe in as little as 30 minutes by cleaning floors and hard surfaces on a regular basis and eliminating harmful contaminants.
In addition to cleaning, you may also want to talk with your local heating and cooling professional to request that the air inside your home be tested for common air-quality issues, such as airborne particles, odors, chemical vapors and carbon monoxide. A simple test can help uncover any underlying problems and help you formulate a solid plan that will have you and your family breathing easier year-round.
Better indoor air quality in 30 minutes
1. Toss the Sheets in the Washer—Washing sheets once a week in water that is at least 150 degrees will kill and remove dust mites that can lead to allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Time involved: 3 minutes
2. Kick Chemicals Out—Vapors from common household chemicals and cleaning supplies can cause a variety of health issues. Instead of storing them under the sink or in a closet, put them outside or in a tightly sealed container. In addition, store unused or partially used paint containers outside. Time involved: 5 minutes
3. Change the Air Filter—Replacing the air filter in a home’s heating and cooling system once a month can help clear the air. Rather than choosing a basic fiberglass panel filter, look for a pleated air filter with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of 10 or higher, which will help capture small particles, protect and improve the performance of your heating and cooling system, and make the air in the home cleaner. Time involved: 2 minutes
4. Run the Right Vacuum—Vacuuming once a week is important to a clean home, but vacuum cleaners can sometimes distribute more allergens into the air than they pick up. The American Lung Association recommends using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which will trap small particles. Time involved: 10 minutes
5. Clean Hard Surfaces—When cleaning countertops, hardwood floors and other furniture surfaces, commercial cleaning supplies can aggravate allergies and contribute to poor air quality. Instead, use safer alternatives, such as baking soda, borax, cornstarch or white vinegar. Time involved: 10 minutes