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Indoor Air Quality – 10 Ways to Clean the Air in Your Home

June 7, 2009

The air inside most buildings is more polluted than the air outside.  Controlling contaminants at their source in Virusyour house is a great first (or ten) step to improving your indoor air quality, your comfort and your health.  However, this will not eliminate all of the contaminants in your house.  There are some negative substances that are almost impossible to eliminate at their source: viruses, bacteria, pollen, dust mites, mold, carbon monoxide, just to name a few.  Some of these contaminants can lead to increased short term allergic type reactions and symptoms like irritated eyes, nose and throat, dizziness and fatigue.  These short term reactions are typically not serious health concerns, but some indoor air contaminants have been linked to long term and serious conditions such as respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer.  It is difficult to pinpoint what level of exposure to these contaminants is potentially dangerous, and it also seems to vary from person to person.  These substances are created by every day activities like cooking, brining most any object into the house, visiting a sick friend, taking a shower, and running the furnace.


Therefore, additional efforts need to be made in order to provide the clean air that will promote healthy living:


1.      Open the windows:  Many times simply opening the widows will provide enough air movement to flush most of the lingering contaminants out of your house.


2.      Whole house fans: Using one of these is a great way to really flush any lingering unwanted gasses and some fine particulates out of your house


3.      Bathroom fans and stove hoods:  Some contaminants are byproducts of other positive and necessary activities.  The down-side of a warm shower is the excessive moisture that can sometimes be left behind and lead to mold and mildew.  Cooking on the stove can result in culinary masterpieces, but it can also result in carbon monoxide, lingering odors, smoke and other contaminants.  Using bathroom fans and stove hoods can quickly eliminate the excess moisture and other contaminants before they can spread throughout the house and become a problem.


4.      HEPA Filters: A HEPA filter for your furnace or air purifier will help to remove many small particles like dust, dust mite allergens, anthrax spores, mold spores, pet dander, and even some harmful gases and airborne asbestos from the air in your house.


5.      Carbon Filters:  Many air purifiers rely on carbon filters to eliminate smoke, fumes, and odors from your house.  Air is forced through a layer of activated granular charcoal which absorbs the odors and allows clean fresh air to pass through.


6.      UV Germicidal Light:  This ultraviolet light feature of many air purifiers neutralizes and eliminates many bacteria, mold spores, protozoa, yeasts and even some viruses.


7.      Ozone:  This naturally occurring unstable gas quickly oxidizes with the pollutants in the air moving through the air purifier and completely neutralizes them.  Many air purifiers use this chemical reaction to effectively eliminate bacteria, fungus and odors from the air.


8.      Ionize:  Air purifiers with ionizers create negatively charged ions which attract small airborne particles such as viruses, pollen, bacteria, smoke, dust, animal dander as well as other allergens.  Once this occurs the particles cling to a metal collector or the particles to fall out of the air.


9.      House Plants: All plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen (O2), but some plants will effectively Peace Lilyabsorb one or more other unwanted gasses such as: benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.  Another benefit of having houseplants is that they help to humidify the air in your house.  Some of the best plants at cleaning the air in your house are: English Ivy; Spider Plant; Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy; Peace Lily; Chinese Evergreen; Bamboo Palm or Reed Palm; Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue; Heartleaf, Selloum, and Elephant Ear Philodendron; Red-edged, Cornstalk, Janet Craig, and Warneck Dracaena; Weeping Fig; Gerbera Daisy or Barberton Daisy; Pot Mum or Florist’s Chrysanthemum; and Rubber Plant.  Get out your green thumb and breathe a little easier.


10. Suck it up: Purchase a quality vacuum cleaner, one with cyclone cleaning and a washable HEPA filter.  Using it frequently will help to eliminate many of the contaminants that collect all over your house and are stirred up in a number of ways.


Every one of the above strategies will help to improve the indoor air quality in your home, but each works on different contaminants and they should be used in combination in order to clean all types of contaminants from the air in your house.

Dan Bossenbroek

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