This was written by Felicia Baratz of Eat Breathe Blog.
When we think of air pollution, we tend to think of smog smothering cities and plumes of exhaust chugging out of factories and vehicles every day. But for all that industrial imagery, the worst pollution may be in the air you breathe in the comfort of your own home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution can be much worse than what you face outdoors – approximately two to five times worse, according to research.
But many people are unaware of the factors that contribute to indoor air pollution. As a result, these pollutants continue to pose a threat in many homes. In order to protect yourself and your family from the potential health complications of breathing highly polluted indoor air, you need to understand the source of these pollutants. Here are the most common causes.
Image courtesy of Gusset
A lack of air circulation in the home can allow dust and other air contaminants to settle indoors and be continually recycled as a home’s residents inhale and exhale. This creates the potential for long-term respiratory problems. Simple solutions include opening the windows when the weather is nice and circulating air through your furnace or air conditioner.
Poor Air Filtration
The flip side to air circulation is that, in order for it be effective, you need to have functioning filters in place. Air conditioner filters and furnace filters can strain dust, dander and other pollutants out of the air, but they fill up over time and become less effective the longer they’re used. Make sure you replace air conditioner and furnace filters as they get old to keep these air cleansing features effective.
Wood-burning fireplaces and gas stoves may have an aesthetic appeal, but they can fill your home with unhealthy burning by-products. Proper ventilation can go a long way toward minimizing the impact these features can have on your home, but abstaining from or limiting their use will decrease the amount of pollutants they put into your air.
Harsh chemicals and cleaning products can give off fumes that can be inhaled without even realizing it. Stick to non-toxic chemicals whenever possible and keep rooms well-ventilated when those products are in use. Even seemingly safe products like air fresheners work essentially by releasing pollutants into your air, so keep in mind the potential air quality effects when using these products in your home.
It’s possible for outdoor air pollution sources to enter the home and contribute to poor interior conditions. One of the most common outdoor influences is radon, a radioactive gas that can enter into the home from underground. Radon is odorless and can only be confirmed by performing radon testing in the home, but if found there are ways to install ventilation that will keep radon out of your home.
Although indoor air quality tends to be poor in relation to the outdoors, awareness of this unseen threat can allow for simple, proactive steps to be taken that dramatically improve air quality. Whether it’s cracking a window or replacing an air filter, small steps can go a long way toward preserving your long-term health. In extreme cases, you might be able to reduce the risk of chronic respiratory problems that can reduce your quality of life.
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