Health advice in a box: Every time you blow your nose, you’re doing your lungs a huge favor! -Part 2

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.

For this reason, indoor air quality is hardly a topic talked about or even thought about

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. 

Did you know? Radon is estimated to contribute between 7,000 and 30,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sunny living room with vast windows.A clean, well vacuumed space harbors less pathogens for better breathing.

Too much of a good thing might be a bad thing

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):

  • Source control – for example, knowing the type of insulation you have, making sure weather stripping is in good shape and monitoring gas emission of your stove.
  • Improved ventilation – try to bring in fresh air into your home by periodically opening windows and allowing a fresh breeze to sweep through your rooms. You can also operate fans or attic windows and use kitchen fans while cooking.
  • Air cleaners – it helps you collect pollutants from indoor air and should draw air through its filters and re-circulate it purified several times per hour.

  • Radon-resistant construction techniques
  • Exterior-grade pressed wood products (with phenol-formaldehyde resin) or even better, solid wood.
  • Carpets installed with a moisture barrier between the carpet and the concrete floor
  • Proper drainage and sealed foundations
  • Energy-efficient heat recovery ventilators
  • And all combustion appliances properly vented and receiving enough air (furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, heaters, etc.)

But most of us do not own a brand-new home so we have to make the best of what we have.

Home sweet home might just get a little sweeter!

Smiling girl out near the water.Fresh air and sunshine, a tried but true, old-fashioned health advice.

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.

Ventilation helps improve your indoor air quality but it works best if it is paired with a proper air cleaning solution, like an air purifier

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.

Part 3 - How indoor air contaminants ruins your health

Back to Breathe

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Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor air quality,
American Lung Association, Ventilation: how buildings breathe,
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, The inside story: a guide to indoor air quality,
CNBC News, Indoor air can be deadlier than outdoor air, research shows,

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