We tend to think of air pollution as something outside — smog, ozone, or haze. But the EPA reports there can be two to five times more particulates inside from pets, pollens, dust, mold viruses, bacteria, dust mites and airborne gases than from outside air. Here are a few simple ways to breathe easier.
1. Change your HVAC filters regularly.
Dirty air filter can restrict air flow, cause mechanical problems, make you uncomfortable and waste money. If your HVAC filter is exposed to condensation, mold may develop and then blow mold spores into your home, which is a real health risk. The same is true of bacteria. And if you have pets, it’s important to change the HVAC filters regularly to prevent the spread of the pet dander within the HVAC system’s ductwork.
Energy Star recommends checking the filter every month, especially during months of heavy use, like the winter or summer. If the filter appears dirty, then it should be changed. At a minimum, change your air filter every three months.
2. Increase ventilation.
An easy way to bring fresh air inside is to increase ventilation, provided the weather permits it and outdoor pollution or pollen levels are not high. Cycling the air within the home, by opening windows or doors, using window or whole house attic fans can increase the levels of outdoor air in the home. Increasing ventilation helps when painting, cooking, or cleaning.
3. Clean regularly, keep your floors fresh.
It is easy to put off chores. But pet dander, dust mites, and mold, builds up quickly and affects your health. Vacuuming carpet and upholstery, mopping to pick up dust that vacuuming leaves behind, washing bedding, and repairing leaks or water-damaged areas in the basement or bathrooms are essential to prevent unhealthy conditions.
4. What do you smell?
Avoid manufactured fragrances from detergents, air fresheners, cleaning products. They emit dozens of different unhealthy chemicals into the air that you breathe. The label does not list them, rather hides them by calling them ‘fragrance.” Look for fragrance-free laundry, mild cleaners, and stop using aerosols. Open windows to let chemicals out.
5. Test for Radon, a radioactive gas.
Makes sense to test for this odorless, colorless gas. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Testing is easy, inexpensive, and takes only a few minutes. Learn more about radon from the Environmental Protection Agency.
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