When you think about health and advice on air pollution, you might picture car exhausts, factory fumes, and smoky chimneys. However, smoke, fungal spores and chemicals present in your indoor air might pose an even greater threat.
The conviction of home as our safe place, that ingrained belief of “home sweet home”, so rooted in our minds and culture blinds us from giving air a second thought.
Should we be worried about the quality of our indoor air? Really?
We just don’t know what to make of it, if anything!
Indoor air quality is a somewhat new challenge in our era of atmospheric pollution and air contamination.
Many homes and offices have high levels of formaldehyde, carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) found in building materials, furniture, paints and adhesives.
And granted, we don’t go around the house armed with sensors and air monitoring devices like a mad scientist.
If you have weatherized your home to make it more energy-efficient, have in mind that a side effect might be inadequate ventilation. If you notice stuffy air, condensation or mildew growth, you might need better ventilation.
Energy efficient homes are great but living in an “air tight” environment can become counter-productive if the space is not ventilated.
The best health advice to improve the quality of the air you breathe can be done with three basic strategies, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
But most of us do not own a brand-new home so we have to make the best of what we have.
The simplest health advice to upgrade the quality of the air in your home is to keep it well ventilated.
According to the American Lung Association, your home needs to be able to breathe, make sure that fresh air comes in periodically and circulates to refresh your indoor environment.
Ideally your home should have windows at opposite ends of the whole blueprint so that when you open both, air will come and go out easily, making a refreshing loop.
Purifying air is not your usual health advice, but it will not only refresh your indoor air but strip it of pollution and contaminants that might be stagnant in your home or come from outside.
Although proper ventilation helps clean out dirty air, contaminants will basically re-circulate all the bad stuff. An air purifier will trap them and blow clean air back to you.
These contaminants are not all created equal and they have unique ways of triggering allergies, asthma, OCP symptoms or other health problems.
Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor air quality, www.epa.gov
American Lung Association, Ventilation: how buildings breathe, www.lung.org
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, The inside story: a guide to indoor air quality, www.cpsc.gov
CNBC News, Indoor air can be deadlier than outdoor air, research shows, www.cnbc.com