The Hidden Dangers of Indoor Air
The term Air Pollution often conjures images of smokestacks and busy streets. The truth is indoor air usually has much higher concentrations of pollutants than the air outside does. This should provide you with cause for consideration.
When it comes to air pollution, most of us put the emphasis outside our doors. But the real problem is behind these doors, which is particularly dangerous because the majority of us spend 90 percent or more of our time in the home or office.
The indoor air problem is especially acute in modern homes. The reason for this is that new homes are sealed and well insulated. They don’t have much natural ventilation unless it is specifically integrated. What happens is that pollution enters the home and rarely leaves, so you get an increase in concentration over time. This is why indoor air pollution can be such a severe problem.
Winters and cold climates exacerbate the problem because people spend even more time in their homes than usual. In addition, doors and windows stayed closed, and the heat is on blowing around the dangerous particles. So the lack of ventilation in the home becomes a much more prevalent issue. Another significant problem is that many of the contaminant sources are not external.
Common indoor sources of pollution are building materials that emit low levels of dangerous chemicals through a process called off-gassing. This process can go on for years, and the materials can originate from the home itself or in furniture and other items that we introduce into the home. Other sources include appliances, cleaning products, artificial air fresheners, crafting materials and so forth. Although these dangers are significant for adults, they’re even worse for children.
Children spend much of their time on the ground. Kids are especially prone to rolling around on carpets, which collect dust that then becomes saturated with the various pollutants in the home. Children are also more prone to absorbing toxic chemicals than adults are, and they will absorb them at a much faster rate. Another issue is that kids breathe faster and more often than adults do. They consume more food and liquids proportionate to their body mass, and they metabolize it all faster too.
So if a child and an adult are in the same toxic environment, the child is imbibing far more of the dangerous substances. Further compounding the issue is that children have incomplete immune systems, so their bodies do not have all of the tools necessary to fend off these attacks.
Basic Steps to Ensuring Clean Air
- Clean the air itself. You will never be able to avoid all internal and external pollutants, so the only way to ensure optimal air quality is to invest in a quality air purifier. Gravitate to the top brands and be sure to get an air purifier that has a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter. Portable units are usually the most practical, effective and efficient options.
- Ensure that the home has proper ventilation. Make sure that all appliances are properly vented to the outside. Have fans in all bathrooms. Run them during showers and baths, and keep them running for an additional 15 minutes. This helps to keep mold and mold spores to a minimum. When the weather is warm, feel free to open windows and doors, but only do this if the home has proper HEPA filtration. With the windows open, pollen and pollen levels can rise dramatically.
- Avoid pollution sources as much as possible.Your primary cleaners should be all natural, such as water, baking soda, white vinegar and lemon juice. If you require a commercial product, opt for one certified “green” by a third party. Avoid artificial air fresheners, which only mask problems and can even exacerbate them. If you want a scent, use flowers or an essential oil like lavender.
- Do not smoke in the home. Force smokers to smoke outside and not near open doors and windows. Secondhand smoke is a major health risk, which is even more significant indoors since the pollutants in smoke can concentrate and have residual effects. Keep in mind that exposure can increase the risk of respiratory infections in adults, and there can be a wide array of other ramifications for growing children.
- Keep the house clean with a regular maintenance regimen. It is better to clean frequently for short periods than let it collect into one big job. Dust regularly using a damp cloth. Always vacuum immediately after dusting. Invest in machine-washable bedding and then wash it weekly, which will have a significant effect on the symptoms from dust mites and other allergens.
- When it comes to pristine indoor air quality, you simply cannot vacuum too much. Carpets are a problem area because they collect dust, which collects a wide range of pollutants. Optimally, you should use a HEPA vacuum cleaner with a disposable bag. A HEPA vacuum is like an air purifier for your carpet, and it can get at the pollutants that the actual air purifier can’t because they aren’t airborne yet.
- Much of the pollution in a home is tracked into it at the bottom of shoes. Take off all shoes at the entrances. Have a floor mat at the inside and outside of each entrance. Clean the floor mats on a weekly basis and replace them approximately twice per year. In heavy traffic areas, avoid carpet. Using some form of hard flooring in a walkway can make a significant difference regarding what is tracked in.
- Brush it off. Brush everything you can before entering the home. This good practice isn’t limited to just our shoes. Always bathe and brush off animals outdoors. Pet dander is a significant contaminant. Avoid dry-cleaning because of the harmful chemicals used in the process. If you cannot, then remove the bag and allow the dry-cleaned clothes to hang outdoors for at least 15 minutes or so.
Three Contaminants to Beware
- Carbon Monoxide- Carbon monoxide exists in the home for many reasons, including fuel-burning appliances, furnaces, heaters, and fireplaces. If there is carbon monoxide build-up in the home, it is an immediate concern. Carbon monoxide detectors are available at the local hardware store for as little as $20. Homeowners should hire professionals to inspect appliances initially and then again every couple of years.
- Lead - Lead became a prohibited material in 1978. Prior to then it was a popular building material. If the home was built before that time and has never been tested, then perform a test immediately. The primary problem areas are around windows and doors, where rubbing is likely to turn the lead into a dangerous dust. You only need to test for lead once, and kits are available at the local hardware store for less than $10.
- Radon - Radon is a gas that occurs naturally due to uranium breakdown. It is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the U.S. Many homeowners do not realize that if radon is created in the ground below the house, it will come up through the soil and foundation and into the indoor air. Radon testing should occur annually, and radon test kits are available at the local hardware store for less than $10.
HEPA Air Purification
Those of us who live in urban and industrial areas face these hidden dangers every day of our lives. The bright side is that we spend most of our time indoors, and we can guarantee pristine indoor air quality with a premium air purifier that has both a HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter.
The HEPA filter removes pollution particles and the dust that can act as a storage site for contaminants. The carbon removes the chemicals, gases and odors. No matter where you live, an air purifier is the right way to ensure that the indoor air you breathe is pollutant free.
The home ecosystem is a fragile thing, and when the harmony is disrupted, it can mean diminished health for the entire family, especially the children. Make the choice for a healthier tomorrow. Get a HEPA air purifier today.
- Administration Staff