Your home should be a haven of safety and comfort. It should be where you go to rest, recover, and grow. However, many Americans live in homes that are making them sick, whether it be from poor air quality, harmful chemicals, or naturally occurring toxins. What can we do to make our homes safe and healthy, and how do we ensure they stay that way over time?
The Importance of Indoor Air Quality
According to the EPA, the average American spends 90 percent of their time indoors, a large part of which is spent at home. This means that the quality of air in your home has a greater impact on your health than, say, the air quality in your city.
Unfortunately, indoor air quality is often not great. Common sources of indoor air pollution include mold, tobacco smoke, chemicals, paints, building materials, and pet dander. Because there is nowhere for these pollutants to go, indoor pollution tends to be much more concentrated than outdoor pollution. This is why the most obvious tip for improving indoor air quality is to open the windows for five to 10 minutes every day. This lets air circulate through your home and allows any chemicals, dust, or airborne toxins to leave the house. You should also test for radon, a dangerous chemical that can be found in any house.
Mold is a particularly sneaky culprit of poor indoor air quality, so it’s important to know the dangers it poses. Mold can enter your home by simply latching on to your clothes when you’re outside; then it populates indoors when there’s enough moisture. If you’re experiencing symptoms like asthma, sneezing, or fatigue that go away when you leave home, you possibly have a mold problem. You can alleviate your symptoms by locating and removing the mold: depending on the material it’s inhabiting, either scrub it off with 10 percent Clorox or cut out the area.
“Toxins” is somewhat of an overused word, usually understood to mean “bad things that I can’t see.” However, in the context of indoor pollution, toxins play a very real role. Toxins are any chemical that is potentially harmful to our health. They occur naturally, such as in the case of mold, but they are also often intentionally brought into our homes, through things like cleaning products, wallpaper, or furniture, to name but a few.
In order to reduce the impact of toxins, try using natural (non-toxic) cleaning products and choose paints and varnishes that are branded as low- or zero-VOC. To the surprise of many people, most modern furniture is treated with formaldehyde, so choosing furniture made out of purely natural materials (wood, glass, metal) can also help.
Keeping a Clean House
One of the best ways to keep your house healthy is to clean it often. As explained above, you should look for non-toxic cleaning products that do the job without making you inhale dangerous chemicals — you could even try some home recipes using everyday ingredients.
How To Home is a great source of tutorials, guides, and articles regarding home maintenance and cleaning. They focus on the well-being of your home, including various sections dedicated to air quality through categories like vacuums, HVAC, purifiers, and humidifiers.
Do I Need An Air Purifier?
An air purifier can certainly help improve the air inside your home. A purifier can get rid of the vast majority of harmful particles in your air, and it does it whether you remember to open the windows or not. They are especially recommended if you suffer from allergies or asthma, if someone in your house is prone to illness, or if for any other reason you are particularly worried about toxins in your environment. BlueAir is a particularly trusted brand.
Just because you can’t see the air inside your house doesn’t mean you can ignore it. It may seem obvious that the air you and your family breathe every day should be clean, fresh, and free of pollutants and allergens, but this doesn’t come automatically. You need to make it happen. Luckily, you are probably already cleaning your house regularly and opening your windows — just make sure to take it a step further and start carefully considering the chemicals you bring into your home, as well as making ventilation a priority rather than an afterthought.
About The Author
Harry Cline is creator of NewCaregiver.org As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be.
He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.
Harry Cline | firstname.lastname@example.org
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Some really good tips for caring for your home in this video!!