According to the American Lung Association, more than 41% of people in the U.S. live in counties with harmful levels of either ozone or particle pollution. If you live in one of these areas, you may have concerns about outdoor air pollution affecting your home’s air quality. However, did you know that many indoor air pollutants can actually be more dangerous? We tend to think of pollution as factory smokestacks and black clouds of exhaust fuming from cars; however, many air quality problems are caused by things in our own home. Since indoor pollution can create health problems like headaches, dizziness, eye irritation, and cancer, taking charge of the air you breathe is a must — and fortunately, can easily be done with just a little bit of effort and maintenance.
1. Test your air quality.
Many harmful contaminants like asbestos, mold, lead-based paint, carbon monoxide, radon, formaldehyde, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are odorless, colorless, and tasteless, and could go undetected for years. Therefore, testing is often the only way to accurately identify problems inside your home. While there isn’t a single test to check for all contaminants at once, individual testing kits and measuring devices are available at most hardware stores, and EPA-certified professionals can take samples.
2. Open a window.
If you live in a city with high levels of pollution, opening your windows may seem counterintuitive. You may think, Won’t that just let in more pollutants? However, natural ventilation is key to improving indoor air quality (IAQ). It’s especially important to air out your place when using chemicals inside the home, such as paints and cleaning supplies, or bringing in new furniture with a strong industrial odor. Running bathroom and kitchen fans that exhaust to the outdoors and turning on an air conditioner with the vent control open can also help circulate the air. Just make sure you change or clean the filters regularly!
3. Maintain your HVAC.
Running your air conditioner helps circulate the air and reduce humidity and moisture to prevent mold; however, particles like dirt, dust, and debris can build up in a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, so it’s important to service it as needed. Your HVAC technician may also be able to recommend filters, such as electrostatically charged or MERV filters to attract allergens like pollen and pet dander. If you don’t have an HVAC system, you can use an air purifier, window A/C unit, and dehumidifier separately or together to help pull moisture from the air while keeping rooms feeling clean and cool.
4. Schedule a cleaning day.
What’s in your dust? Household dust is made up of a hodgepodge of things, like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and food debris — but more disturbingly, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that it can also carry up to 45 chemicals from five chemical classes, including phthalates, phenols, and perfluorochemicals (PFCs). To minimize the accumulation of dust in your home, use a HEPA filter vacuum and mop to clean floors; wipe overlooked places like door frames, ceiling fans, and under the sofa; place floor mats by doors to minimize dirt that enters the house; and wash bedding and curtains regularly.
5. Place an air-filtering plant in your home.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) “Clean Air Study” found that certain plants can remove the chemicals benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia from the air. Therefore, to spruce up your decor and filter the air, consider adding a Boston fern, spider plant, Chinese evergreen, snake plant, bamboo palm, English ivy, or other air-filtering plant to your home.
There’s a lot that goes into taking care of your home, and Personal Express Insurance can help you protect it with a homeowners insurance policy. Visit a Homegrown Pro in your neighborhood, call 1-800-499-3612 or get a free quote to view your personalized options — and get low rates with the Local Advantage!