Poor home air quality has become a nationwide concern as air toxins can impact health in several ways. It can trigger asthma, accelerate the spread of airborne diseases, and make breathing difficult. Here are the top four contaminants that sully indoor air quality and the good, the better, and the best methods to eliminate them.
1. Cigarette Smoke
The health disadvantages of cigarette smoke are well documented, and doctors often advise against it. However, many still smoke because it’s their way to relieve stress.
Smoking indoors can adversely affect non-smoker family members and increase their risk for cancer. Secondhand smoke is known to have about 70 chemicals that cause cancer. Additionally, the smoke can settle on fabrics and carpets and turn into thirdhand smoke. It keeps indoor contaminants for a long time inside your home. Here are some ways to cut down on indoor pollution.
Good: Ventilate the Area Generously
If you can’t stop a family member from smoking, close the other rooms to prevent the smoke and smell from spreading. Then, ventilate the area well by opening the windows and using air purifiers. Turn on a fan and place it near an open window so it blows air pollutants outside. You can also turn on a ceiling fan to diffuse cigarette smoke faster.
Better: Ban Indoor Smoking
Implement a smoke-free policy inside your home. Ask visitors and family members to smoke in the yard or garden instead. However, ensure their smoke isn’t carried away by the wind to the neighbor’s home.
Best: Quit Smoking
The best and healthiest option is to stop smoking. Talk to your family about getting professional help if they’ve relied on tobacco products to cope with stress. Working with a therapist may help them quit negative habits and find better alternatives for stress management.
2. Gas-powered Appliances
Approximately 38% of American households use natural gas for cooking. It seems harmless at first glance, but the combustion from gas-operated equipment releases nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants that can affect your family’s health.
Besides cooking appliances, the fireplace is also another gas-powered feature that 77% of prospective buyers would pay more to have in their homes. It can be a practical and cost-effective solution to heat the residence during winter.
Good: Provide Proper Ventilation
Gas-operated household tools can increase the risk of childhood asthma by exposing children to higher levels of nitrogen dioxide indoors. You can decrease the concentrations of air pollutants by properly ventilating your kitchen.
Open the windows to allow better air circulation. If you have exhaust fans, turn them on to disperse the contaminated air outside.
To control pollutants when using a gas fireplace, ensure the chimneys or flues are not blocked, damaged, or leaking.
Better: Use Air Purifiers
Even if the gas stove is off, it can leak methane gas emissions. A high-quality air purifier can reduce the amount of impurities in the kitchen and minimize health risks. It may not remove all odor-causing particles, but it can filter out several harmful particles, such as lung irritants, smoke, and odors. Choose an air purifier with a strong fan and an effective HEPA filter.
Best: Switch to Electric Appliances
Electric stoves, fireplaces, and induction cooktops are more environmentally friendly. They don’t emit any gas and are more efficient to use. Induction and electric stoves heat faster than gas-operated stoves, so you finish cooking quickly. Lastly, electric appliances are easy to maintain.
3. Household Cleaners
Most commercial cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that degrade indoor air quality and cause headaches and allergic reactions. These household items include air fresheners, aerosol sprays, chlorine, and detergents. They contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to respiratory problems.
Good: Read the Labels
Although not all manufacturers list all the ingredients in the cleaning supplies, choosing your products wisely can lessen indoor air toxins. Avoid buying products with these four ingredients:
- Flammable ingredients
Better: Buy Eco-Friendly Products
They may be more expensive than regular cleaning items, but using eco-friendly products is safer. They don’t include chlorine, nitrates or phosphates — chemicals that damage the environment. They don’t expel air toxins and are safer for you, your family, and your pets. Don’t just choose items with “green” or “eco-safe” labels — some products are not what they claim to be. Instead, look for products with the Safer Choice or DfE labels.
Best: Use Natural Products
The healthiest and most affordable alternative is using vinegar and baking soda. You can make homemade mixtures from these essential kitchen items and use them to clean the bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom. They’re as effective as grocery cleaning products and safer for your family.
4. Pet Dander
Surprisingly, your fur family members can also worsen the air quality inside your house due to their dander. Dander sticks to areas where your dogs or cats linger. Dander remains in the air for a long time and can provoke allergic reactions and asthma.
Good: Ventilate Your Home
Open your windows and doors and turn on your exhaust or ceiling fan to let in fresh air. It can dilute the allergens in the air and make them less irritating.
Better: Groom Your Pets Regularly
Prevent pets from sharing private spaces, like the bed or the couch. If they do, clean the area every day. You can get pet pillows, mats and bolster beds so they have their own space to lie down. Separate your pet’s items, like a blanket or towel, from your things. Moreover, vacuum or clean your home frequently to minimize dander.
Best: Invest in a Premium Quality Airwasher
Pets rarely stay in one area, so a high-capacity Airwasher is an investment to clean the air around the home. It’s especially useful if you have family members with respiratory health concerns as it cleans and humidifies indoor air of allergens, pollen, dust, smoke, and dander.
Protect Your Family’s Health by Improving Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality brings many health concerns, including allergic reactions, asthma, and an increased risk for lung cancer. You can safeguard your family from these problems by increasing ventilation, investing in a purifier, banning indoor smoking, switching to natural cleaning products, and grooming your pet regularly. Cleaner air can help you breathe easier, sleep better, and improve your general well-being.