When you think of indoor air pollution, you most likely think of pollution outdoors like smog, car engines, etc.. During the summer months we don’t spend as much time indoors so it is effectively out of our mind, but when colder weather rolls around in New England we spend a lot more time inside. Keeping the air quality as clean as possible indoors in your home or workplace is important for your health. Here are some tips to help prevent indoor air pollution.
Cigarette, cigar smoke
One of the most common indoor air pollutants is cigarette or cigar smoke according to some experts. “The residual gas and particles from cigarette smoke that settle … [do] pose health hazards, particularly in rooms with a lot of fabric or carpeting,” says pulmonologist Sumita Khatri, MD. Dr. Sumata says the risks are much higher in children, who are likely to be playing on the ground and with people that have heart and lung problems. Cigarette smoke also gets into the carpet fibers and lingers for a long period of time.
With thousands of household cleaners on the market today filled with a wide range of chemicals it’s no wonder that the indoor air pollution in homes today is bad. Harsh chemicals that give off fumes can irritate the nose, mouth, and lungs as well as your skin when you come into contact with these elements. These fumes can cause inflammation that can adversely affect people with chronic lung conditions and act as triggers for other people that have allergies.
Indoor air pollutants that affect asthma or other lung disorders
• Particulates from candles and incense
• Irritating perfumes
• Odors from harsh household cleaners
• Craft and office supplies, such as paints, glues and toner ink
• Fumes from dry cleaned garments (many solvents used are carcinogenic)
• Allergens, such as mold, pollen, pet dander, and dust mites
• Wood-burning fireplaces or stoves
• Improper ventilation in homes (can increase levels of radon and carbon monoxide gas
• Gas stoves that are not well ventilated with hoods to outside (can increase exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide and formaldehyde)
• Materials used in older buildings such as asbestos, formaldehyde and lead
How to cut down your risk to indoor air pollutants
Avoid smoking indoors (quitting smoking is the best answer for overall health)
1. Use craft supplies in well-ventilated areas
2. Make sure your gas stove is well-ventilated
3. Minimize clutter
4. Remove carpeting if possible
5. Use a dehumidifier and/or air conditioner to reduce moisture
6. Keep trash covered to avoid attracting pests
7. Remove shoes at the door
8. Have car emissions tested regularly
9. Minimize air freshener use
10. Test your home for radon
11. Use carbon monoxide detectors
12. Fix water leaks
13. Dust surfaces and vacuum frequently
14. Wash bedding weekly in hot water
15. Make sure exhaust fans are functioning in your bathrooms and kitchen
16. Keep a lid on scented candles
17. Regularly having your carpet and area rugs cleaned.
18. Regularly having your upholstery cleaned
Ventilation in your office or home
The role of ventilation is important to filter out some or all of these indoor air pollutants. Buy a good room air purifier that is HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting). This will filter out all of the pollutants and not worsen your allergies.