Inside Illnesses: Indoor Air Pollutants and Solutions

With the winter chill permeating the outside air with its cold snow falling to the ground, many take shelter under the roofs of their own homes. However, spending so much time indoors can not only generate boredom, but also can be bad for your physical health as well. In fact, indoor pollution levels are often at least two to five times higher inside than out! Most of these pollutants stem from cleaning supplies, wood burning, tobacco smoke, construction materials, radon, molds, Volatile Organic Compounds, and burning kerosene. These high levels can yield both short-term and long-term health problems such as asthma, recurring colds, and even cancer. Cabin fever is perhaps no longer just a mental issue but a physical one as well. Yet, rest assured, that there are some actions you can take to fight back against indoor air pollution during the winter. The following list details those actions:

 

  1. Vacuum your house frequently. Vacuuming can reduce the amount of dust particles in carpets and prevent dust mites, pet dander, and other harmful dirt particles from seeping into materials. Some vacuums include HEPA filters (High-efficiency particulate absorption) to further ensure a good house a dust mite free household.
  2.  Employ a dehumidifier- this is especially important in basements and attics as they lower rates of condensation in these otherwise moist areas prevents breeding of molds, allergens, and bacteria. Try to keep the humidity below 50%, with the ideal range being from 30%-50%.
  3.  Disinfect surfaces, floors, and walls- this prevents the reproduction of molds, dust, and dirt and makes the air cleaner and safer to breathe. Click here for some cleaning recipes that are both salubrious and sustainable.
  4.  Clean dehumidifiers and refill frequently with fresh water- the warm wet environment of dehumidifiers is a perfect place for bacteria to nestle. By cleaning them often, you can help prevent the build up of those contaminants.
  5.  Limit the use of fragrance sprays – these can often release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s), which have been linked to causing many health issues.
  6.  Place a mat down near the doors of your home- this prevents dirt and pesticides from even entering the house as people can leave and wipe their shoes on that mat.
  7.  Find out if there is radon in your home- for information on how to do so and what the results mean, check out the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA’s website for a guide on indoor radon.
  8.  Open the Windows! Although it may be chilly, letting in even a little fresh air will not only make u feel invigorated but will prevent stale air and promote circulation.
  9.  Purchase some indoor plants- although it is snowy outside, the sun still comes up and emits light. Hence, plants can still survive indoors and according to NASA Clean Sir Study, they can act as natural air purifiers that absorb indoor chemical pollutants.

Written by: Julie Elliot, class of 2015

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