You know that keeping a clean house is important to your family’s health and safety, but have you thought about how to keep your home’s air clean? You’ve no doubt heard about studies that show the air quality in a typical home is several times more polluted than the outside air. So what can you do to prevent indoor air pollution?
There are a multitude of pollutants that are often found in homes throughout the U.S., including dust, dust mites, tobacco smoke, radon, carbon monoxide, pet dander, pollen and mold. Even volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from such sources as formaldehyde, carpet and textile emissions, paint, pressed wood, pesticides and cleaners are often found in Tallahassee area homes.
How to Prevent Indoor Air Pollution
Here are six steps Florida homeowners can take to minimize indoor pollution:
- Cut down on the use of chemicals. Find furniture and other products made of real wood, and look for upholstered items that don’t emit VOCs. Buy cleaning products that have minimal or no VOCs. Store chemicals such as paint and pesticides outside the living space, and keep the lids on tightly. Air out carpets and dry cleaning before you bring them into your home.
- Install ventilation. Many of the pollutants listed above flourish in our homes because we don’t have adequate ventilation. In an effort to have more energy efficient, airtight homes, we’ve sacrificed natural ventilation through tiny cracks and crevices. In our region, we spend a major part of the year with the house closed up with the air conditioner running, so it’s important to find a strategy for providing fresh air and exhausting stale air. If you don’t have them already, install exhaust fans in the bathroom and over the kitchen range. Also, you can prevent indoor air pollution with some type of fresh air supply using mechanical ventilation. There are four basic types and your HVAC expert can help you decide which is best for you — supply, exhaust, balanced, or heat or energy recovery ventilation. Attic fans are also helpful in our climate.
- Use better quality air filters. If you’ve been using cheap fiberglass air filters, you haven’t been doing much to clean up your home’s air. Switch to a pleated cotton fiber or polyester filter with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating between 8 and 12. These filters do a better job of cleaning the air and protecting the HVAC system from the dirt and dust particles that might be drawn inside.
- Install an air cleaner. Start by adding natural air cleaners in the way of houseplants to your home. Plants have a natural ability to absorb chemicals and gases through their leaves and roots and turn them into nutrients. A number of plants have been tested for this ability, including Boston ferns and English ivy. Beyond this, look into installing a whole-house air cleaner. While this can be an upfront expense, it’s often the best way to clean the air .Several types of technology are available, including ultraviolet germicidal irradiation cleaners for biological contaminants, charcoal activated gas phase for tobacco smoke and other gases and electrostatic filters to catch very small pollutants from pet dander to pollen.
- When you clean, clean for indoor air pollutants as well. Many of these pollutants are at rest in the carpet and on hard surfaces of the home. Vacuum frequently with a vacuum that uses a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, mop with a damp mop, and dust with a damp or electrostatic microfiber cloth to pick up dust rather than stir it about. Wash linens frequently in hot water, and leave shoes at the door.
- Have your home tested for radon and install carbon monoxide detectors. Radon is a natural gas that can invade homes from the earth below, while carbon monoxide is a toxic by-product of combustion. You don’t need either wafting about in your home’s air.
To learn more about indoor air quality, call Air Control Heating and Cooling at (850) 391-4300. We’ve proudly served the Tallahassee area since 1964.