On Saturday I issued the Accidentally Green Fresh Air Challenge to help you reduce indoor air pollution simply by opening your windows at least thirty minutes a day.
And Monday I shared my family’s recent experience with an air purifier.
Purifying indoor air can be important – especially in the homes of young children or anyone with chronic health conditions. Indoor air pollution can cause or exasperate asthma, respiratory tract infections, allergic reactions, congestion, coughing, dizziness, eye and skin irritations, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and sneezing.
It’s helpful to realize exactly where all of the indoor air pollution is coming from. Today I’ll address common pollutants, room by room:
In your living room, you might be dealing with smoke, pet dander, artificially scented air fresheners, toxic candles, carbon monoxide, or radon. For the record, carbon monoxide and radon are both odorless deadly gases – since you can’t smell them, you don’t know if if they’re contaminating your air.
Formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen, most likely is all throughout your house, too. Formaldehyde is found in anything from particleboard cabinets and furniture, and textiles and draperies. It irritates eyes, noses, and throats, and can cause coughing and bronchial spasms. A dear friend of mine is allergic to the chemical and her body tells her (quite violently – and quickly) whenever she’s exposed to formaldehyde.
To solve air problems in a living room, get fireplaces checked annually to prevent carbon monoxide. Switch to soy or beeswax candles and natural air fresheners. When you do replace furnishings or draperies, opt for formaldehyde-free kinds. And if you smoke or have pets, be sure to dust and vacuum often.
Kitchens can be filled with a range of pollutants – from moldy trash cans to toxic cleaning products.
One of the biggest concerns in the kitchen is found in appliances. If they are improperly installed or maintained, they may cause huge problems. Gas stoves could leak and create carbon monoxide poisoning. Dishwashers could leak and create major water damage and mold.
It’s vitally important to vent all gas stoves to the outside – and it’s also necessary to make sure all appliances are properly installed, used, maintained, and ventilated.
To prevent mold (and odor) issues, take the trash out often. And clean up dirty places with non-toxic cleaners.
Thanks to a lot of water and a typically cramped, poorly ventilated location, it’s easy for mold to grow in a bathroom. Toxic cleaners also add pollution to a bathroom.
Make sure to keep your bathroom well ventilated and clean with non-toxic cleaners.
Air in bedrooms often is dustier than other rooms in the house, simply because bedding easily collects dust.
To prevent excessive dust, wash your bedding often and vacuum regularly.
Basement and garage
Basements and garages are breeding grounds for pollution. Moisture and mold are potential problems – so are radon, carbon monoxide emitted from heating and cooling units, and volatile organic compounds found in paints, paint thinners, and other toxic products.
To remedy these issues, install a dehumidifier, use proper ventilation, seal cracks, test for radon, use a carbon monoxide detector, properly maintain fuel-burning appliances, and safely store chemicals (don’t forget to keep them out of the reach of children).
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