10 Cheap Ways to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, chest congestion, wheezing, coughing, asthma, nausea, headaches, lung disease, and even cancer are among the many afflictions that can be caused by indoor air pollution. Breathing dirty air can affect children, the elderly, and even unborn babies more quickly than others. If you have seen repeated illnesses like those mentioned above, there is a possibility that the air you are breathing in your home is to blame. (See also: Surprisingly Dangerous Things in Your Home)
Common pollutants include tobacco smoke, mold, mildew, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, furnaces, fireplaces, asbestos, and formaldehyde (found in carpet, particle board, furniture, and plywood paneling). According to the EPA, pollutants have increased in recent years and have helped to make poor indoor air quality the fourth largest environmental health problem faced in the US.
Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to improve the air quality in your home. Here are ten ways to clean the air, and improve your health.
1. Never Smoke or Allow Tobacco Smoke Inside Your Home
Tobacco is known to contain 60 cancer-causing chemicals. Secondhand smoke causes lower respiratory tract infections, ear infections, asthma, and pneumonia in children. No amount of secondhand smoke is safe.
2. Test for Radon
According to World Health Organization, radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that is also the second most important cause of lung cancer (after smoking) in many countries. It can enter the home through cracks and holes in the foundation because it is found in soil; it has also been found in granite countertops. Testing is easy and costs as little as $20.
3. Reduce the Use of Harmful Chemicals
Avoid using harmful chemicals found in many common laundry and cleaning products. Seek out natural, harmless alternatives to clean your home. (See also: DIY Laundry Soap Recipes)
4. Use a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate air) Filter
HEPA filters can catch much smaller particles than a typical air filter. Many are made with carbon-based materials and can give added protection against common allergens, including pet dander, dust, and mold spores. HEPA filters can be installed into your existing furnace and air conditioner system, or used in stand-alone devices, like HEPA vacuums or air filters.
5. Grow Air-Purifying House Plants
NASA conducted a study to find the best ways to purify the air on its space stations. These same plants can be used to improve the air quality in your home. Some of the best air purifying plants to grow in your home are:
- Bamboo Palm — considered the best plant to grow in your home
- Dwarf Date Palm — great for new homes that could have a high level of formaldehyde
- Janet Craig
- Boston Fern
- English Ivy — great for purifying the air of mold
- Areca Palm Tree — great for purifying the air as well as humidifying it
6. Remove Aerosol Sprays
Products like hair spray, bug sprays, furniture polish, deodorants, and anything else that comes in an aerosol canister contain propellants that are dispelled into the air when used. While these aren't necessarily deemed a danger to indoor air quality, the particles of product that come out of an aerosol spray are very fine, making them easier to breathe in accidentally than particles from a pump or trigger spray bottle. To be certain that these products don't compromise air quality, they are best to be removed from the home.
7. Improve the Ventilation
If you want to improve the air on the inside, find ways to recirculate it with outdoor air. Open windows as much as possible. Use exhaust fans in both your kitchen and bathroom when appropriate. Install in-home ventilation units that bring more outside air indoors. (See also: Cooking Fumes Are Bad For Your Health)
8. Decrease the Possibility for Mold to Grow
Run exhaust fans when taking showers, and be diligent with any leaky pipes, windows, and gutters. Any place for moisture to collect is a place for mold to develop.
9. Clean Regularly
Dust mites, animal dander, pollen, and other toxins can all be removed by vacuuming the carpet and upholstered furniture, cleaning drapery, and dusting regularly. For the best air quality, vacuuming should be done twice a week with a vacuum that has a cleanable filter that will not blow any dust back into the air.
10. Remove Shoes When Entering the Home
People bring in a large number of toxins on the soles of their shoes. These toxins can include animal dander, pollen, feces, harmful chemicals, and much more. Remove shoes upon entering the home and replace them with "inside-only shoes."
Whether you are looking to reduce the number of colds in your family, limit the number of attacks an asthmatic experiences, or safe-guard your home from future illnesses, improving the quality of the air you breathe indoors is easy to do. With a few simple steps, you and your family will be taking in a cleaner, purer, breath of fresh air.
What steps have you taken to improve your indoor air quality? Air it out in comments below!