Indoor Air Quality Tips
The following indoor air quality tips can help keep you breathing clean and healthy air year–round.
Air Filter Replacement
Even HEPA filters aren't much good once they get dirty. Make it your practice to change air filters every three months. While you are at it, schedule a yearly maintenance check on your HVAC system.
If you use pesticides on your lawn, you or your pets will track them into the house. If you have an ant or roach problem, use boric acid and traps rather than toxic sprays.
Avoid Flexible Vinyl
Flexible vinyl contains PVC which often contains phthalate plasticizers and lead. Dust from flexible vinyl flooring and wallpaper can contain these toxic materials. Choose wall and floor coverings that don't contain PVC to reduce your risk of exposure to these indoor air contaminants.
Avoid Building Products Containing Formaldehyde
Plywood, OSB (oriented strand board), particle board, kitchen cabinets and insulation may contain formaldehyde. This chemical is a known cancer–causing agent. Look for building materials that don't contain formaldehyde. Solid wood products are a good choice.
Replace Mothballs with Cedar
Moth balls contain naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene, both of which are as harmful to you as the moths you want to eliminate. Replace mothballs with cedar oil, shavings, balls or blocks.
Keep Things Dry
Address any issues that are causing moisture. Fix leaks and dripping faucets. Provide a way for moisture to drain away from your home. This means keep your gutters cleared and down–spouts connected. Make sure your roof is in good condition.
Mold doesn't grow where it's dry.
Test for Radon.
This is especially important in certain parts of the country. If you have a basement, you may have a radon problem.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is odorless and colorless. Long–term exposure causes lung cancer. In today's homes where air–tight construction is the norm, radon gas can be a serious problem.
Choose Personal Care and Beauty Products Carefully.
Acetone nail polish remover and fingernail polish aren't good for indoor air quality. Man–made fragrances can also cause problems in indoor air quality. For some susceptible individuals, even essential oils can cause breathing problems.
No Indoor Smoking
Tobacco smoke is the leading contributor to low indoor air quality. It contributes up to 4,000 airborne contaminants, 40 of which are carcinogenic.
Open Doors and Windows
Even during the winter it's advisable to let some fresh air in to your home. Turn off the heater, and open a window for a few minutes, once a week. If you have a venting skylight, opening a window at a lower level and opening the skylight will create an updraft that rapidly draws fresh air in and lets stale air out. Do this at the warmest time of day if possible, as this will reduce the impact on your heating bill. During the summer, do the same at night.
Choose Household Cleaners Carefully
Avoid cleaners that include nonylphenols and octylphenols, because they’re suspected hormone disrupter chemicals which can build up in the home. If the label doesn't list all the chemicals used, don't buy it. Often simple things like baking soda and vinegar are very effective cleaners, yet don't leave any toxic fumes behind.