Often when we think of pollution, we imagine toxic waste, oil sludge or leaking factories. While these pollutants are surely bad for you, it can be air pollution that’s the worst. From oil refineries to city smog, outdoor air pollution can be avoided by moving to an area where these problems don’t exist. But believe it or not, it’s indoor air quality that accounts for the most health issues related to air pollution. Indoor air quality can affect anyone no matter where they live, so escaping these pollutions can often prove impossible. And with the majority of homeowners spending over 90 percent of their time indoors, it’s easy to see why these indoor air pollutants can be so bad for your health.
What Causes Bad Indoor Air Quality?
Bad indoor air quality can be caused by a number of problems, and it takes a wide variety of solutions to solve them. Bad indoor air quality can easily be caused by:
- Plant Pollen
- Dust Mites
- Air Conditioning Systems
- Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC)
Many of these indoor air contaminants can be avoided, but some are inherent with the products that you purchase or install in your home. For instance, paint with high VOC’s can release toxic fumes for years after they have been applied. Certain polyurethane components that are found in furniture, window treatments and mattresses can also release formaldehyde, making indoor air quality suffer. Add to that the hairspray, room deodorizers, perfume, make-up products, and the list of chemicals within our homes quickly becomes profound. Once these indoor pollutants reach profound proportions in the home, they can cause allergies to increase and asthma sufferers to quickly take notice.
Keeping Indoor Air Quality Safe
There are many strategies to help keep your indoor air quality up to par. One of the best ways to keep your indoor air safe is with adequate ventilation. Opening a few windows or doors occasionally (even in the winter) can help keep fresh air circulating through the home. Also, be sure your attic ventilation is in good working order to maintain proper indoor air quality throughout the home when the air conditioning or heater is in use.
Green eco-cleaners cleaners like citrus-based products can help remove mold and mildew, while employing non-toxic VOC free chemicals to do the cleaning. Be sure to purchase low or no VOC furniture’s and accessories to prevent indoor air problems associated with off gassing. Plastics, polyurethanes and vinyl products can all off-gas their toxic pollutants for years inside of your home.
Installing and maintaining the right air handling system is crucial to keeping indoor air quality safe, no matter what allergens and pollutants are in your indoor air. Be sure to keep air vents, returns and filters clean, fresh and new to prevent mold and other allergens from affecting your indoor air.
It’s important to take all indoor air quality problems seriously. That’s why our Healthy Home Standard sets the standard for building guidelines, methodology, and products that result in a Healthy Home for the family. (To read more about the Healthy Home Standard, click here.) Many of the International Residential Construction Codes are designed to improve indoor air quality, and they do improve it. As our bodies age, however, they must work harder and harder to fight against airborne toxins. Thus, the cleaner the air in our home, the better we feel. After all, we want to be able to feel safer inside of our homes than outside of them.