When most of us think of pollution, we think of the common outdoor pollutants, such as car exhaust and power plant emissions. However, numerous studies have found that the quality of the air indoors is often worse than that outside.1 This means that there are dangerous particles floating through the air that you and your family breathe on a daily basis.
By the end of this article, you will understand why indoor air quality is often poor and what you can do to enhance the quality of the air that you breathe.
What Dirties the Air Indoors?
There are many sources of indoor air pollution that release compounds into the air that are detrimental to human health. Some of the most toxic include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Cleaning products and fragrances
- Building materials
- Insulation containing asbestos
- Heating, AC, and humidifier units
- Outdoor pollution or contamination (pesticides in the air, for example)
Indoor Air Pollution and Health
If you do not take any steps to counteract indoor air pollution, it can negatively impact your health in a variety of ways. These include: (*2)
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
- A weakened immune system
- Respiratory problems
- Chronic cough
- Memory difficulties
Young children and elderly adults are often at the highest risk of health complications attributed to poor indoor air quality.
How to Make Your Indoor Air Cleaner
There are a few steps that you can take to help improve the quality of your indoor air:
- Ventilate: Open your windows and doors when weather permits to allow your indoor air to clear out.
- Eliminate main contaminants: Remove air fresheners; purchase organic mattresses; speak with an expert about the emissions from your building materials and furnishings to see if there are any changes that need to be made.
- Buy an air purifier: You can purchase either a whole-house air purifier or a portable one to help clean indoor air.
- Change your filters: If you have central heating or AC, you want to be sure to get your filters changed regularly. Dust can accumulate, and with it, small toxic particulate matter. You may also need to clean your air ducts.
- Don’t overwater houseplants: Too much water can lead to mold growing in the soil, so make sure not to allow the soil to stay too wet. Additionally, if you suffer from allergies, it may be best to keep plants outdoors.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter: A HEPA filter on your vacuum can help protect you from dirt and dust flying back out from the exhaust.
Indoor air quality is an important part of keeping your body safe from dangerous toxins. Be sure to use natural cleaning products and be cognizant of the types of furniture and carpeting that you purchase. In order to improve indoor air quality, try an air purifier and ventilating your home at times when the outdoor air pollution is low.