Indoor air quality: Protect your home from what you can't seeWith so many people now optimizing their living spaces for energy efficiency, the risk for indoor air pollution in homes can actually increase, as pollutants can get trapped indoors as a result, experts say.
By: Statepoint Media, Forum News Service
Duluth is well-known for its turn-of-the-century homes and historic buildings, which usually aren’t the most energy-efficient structures, so it’s not surprising that so many residents are going green.
But with so many people now optimizing their living spaces for energy efficiency, the risk for indoor air pollution in homes can actually increase, as pollutants can get trapped indoors as a result, experts say.
Clean air inside your home is vital. Exposure to air pollutants can cause health problems, including respiratory disease, heart disease and cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Here are steps you can take to protect your family from these risks:
Many sources of air pollution are preventable. Start by ensuring no one smokes inside, as secondhand smoke contains nicotine, toxic chemicals and carcinogenic agents.
Take care of water leaks immediately to prevent mold and mildew from forming around your home. Also, take steps to reduce indoor humidity. The EPA and the Department of Energy offer tips at www.EnergyStar.gov.
If your home was built between 1930 and 1950, it was likely insulated with asbestos. Make sure these materials are in good condition, as damaged asbestos can release harmful fibers into your home. Hire a professional to seal, cover or remove damaged material.
Emissions from gas stoves can worsen asthma. If anyone in your household suffers from asthma, consider replacing your gas stove with an electric one.
Choose safe household cleaners that don’t contain harsh chemicals. Organic and nontoxic products can do the same job as traditional products, without irritating your eyes, nose and throat.
No matter how many steps you take to prevent indoor air pollution, your home is subject to inevitable sources of pollutants. Proper mechanical ventilation is your best defense.
“Continuous ventilation at a low speed not only takes minimal wattage to run, but it also significantly improves the indoor air quality of your entire home by exhausting hidden pollution, such as allergens, mildew, mold and more,” says Anita So, marketing manager at Panasonic Eco Solutions North America.
Although most consumers are aware of the need for ventilation in areas prone to high humidity such as bathrooms, an airtight home can benefit from eliminating mold, mildew, moisture, volatile organic compounds and other invisible vapors.
First, check to see if your ventilation fans are working properly. If the bathroom mirror steams up after a hot shower or bath, it is time to replace or install a ventilation fan. For example, Panasonic’s Energy Star rated WhisperGreen fan offers ventilation with a low-speed setting for continual whole-home ventilation and a high-speed setting for increased moisture levels produced by showers or baths.
Not only will a combination of intermittent and continual ventilation keep your family safer from allergens and toxic gases, it can also save you money by preventing structural damage, ruined fixtures, peeling wallpaper and blistering paint.
Sometimes hidden dangers are the most menacing. But you can breathe more easily by preventing and removing pollutants in your home.