Achoo! Are you plagued with allergies and asthma? The air in your own home could be causing it. Here are five common pollutants that can affect your indoor air quality.
Carpeting may lend a soft, warm space to your home, but it can also be harmful to your indoor air quality. Carpets often harbor pollutants, including dust mites, pet dander, lead, mold spores, pesticides and dust. Even gasses from outdoors can come in from outside and adhere to the fibers in the carpeting.
Children and pets are most likely to be affected because they often lay or play on the floor; babies with sensitive respiratory systems can be especially prone to coughing or wheezing as a result of particles in the carpet. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to completely clean a largely carpeted area, so your best bet is to replace carpets with hard-surface laminate or wood flooring and rugs that can be cleaned outside. If you must keep carpet, vacuum at least three times each week with a high efficiency vacuum.
Cockroaches and Pests
Cockroaches are some of the most hated vermin in the pest world. Besides being hard to look at, they can be problematic to the quality of air in your home. Cockroaches produce allergens that can aggravate asthma; the cockroaches give off these allergens through fecal matter and body part fragments, which can become airborne and get into your home.
The allergens aren’t only inhaled through the air, but also collect on furniture, pillows and bedding. Your house can be infested with these allergens even if you’ve never seen a single cockroach in your home – in fact, one in five homes have cockroach residue even without an infestation. To get rid of cockroach allergens, call a professional exterminator (a natural eco-friendly one to not add more toxins to the air); reduce the humidity in your home; and wash bedding and pillows regularly.
If you think you’re immune to mold, think again. There are no indoor spaces without traces of mold somewhere in them. The more moisture is in an area, the more likely mold is to grow and cause problems with air quality. Exposure to mold can cause allergic reactions, coughing, sneezing, and nasal collection, as well as irritation to your eyes and throat. Mold can’t be removed completely, but can be prevented and controlled rather easily.
First, make sure you control spaces with excessive dampness, including attics, crawl spaces, bathrooms and basements. Use exhaust fans and dehumidifiers to keep air circulating. Your indoor humidity level should be below 50% as a general rule. Next, check for leaks or standing water (like refrigerator drip pans or leaky air conditioners) and clean up the area. You can also clean your air with the Venta Airwasher, which helps remove mold and allergens.
If your house is clean, you’re less likely to experience indoor air quality problems like mold and dust mites. However, if you clean your home using harsh chemicals, you may be bringing in another type of indoor air pollutant. Many cleaning products, especially those containing bleach, ammonia or chlorine, can cause burning eyes, throat and nose irritation and headaches.
Rug and upholstery cleaners and furniture and floor polish, dry cleaning chemicals, aerosol spray products and oven cleaners can all be dangerous if used incorrectly and too often. Consumers must even be wary of “green” products, which can still contain some volatile organic compounds (VOC) that produce the allergens associated with asthma. Sometimes, the all-natural approach is best when you’re cleaning your home. Warm water and soap often cleans just as effectively, and baking soda is a great alternative for scrubbing and stains.
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Building and Paint
Love that “new home smell”? What you’re sniffing is actually indoor air pollutants. Building materials, including plywood and pressed-wood products, give off gasses and odors as they age. For new buildings, chemical from different products can mix to bring out even more problems. To avoid this, make sure your builder uses low-VOC products and use well-ventilated areas when you paint to improve your indoor air quality.
About the Guest Author: Amanda is a social media manager for a health care organization by day and a blogger and freelance writer by night. She’s also a mom to an amazing 2 year-old boy and wife to a great guy who indulges all her celebrity gossip. For celebrity gossip, fashion, beauty and DIY, visit Amanda’s blog, It’s Blogworthy (http://itsblogworthy.com).