Researchers claim that we spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors and that indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outside air. As homes and businesses tighten up to reduce heating and cooling costs, we are reducing the amount of air changes from the required 4 to 6 per hour down to 1 and 2 changes per hour. The result is, we are breathing contaminated air. This is one of the explanations for an increase in allergies, asthma, and bronchitis. So, what can we do?
1. Establish a dusting plan. Use a damp cleaning cloth to capture the dust and rinse it frequently. Do not use a feather duster or dust rag to move the dust. Dust contains many contaminants and allergens such as pollen, mold spores, dander, pet hair, cloth fibers, volcanic ash, residue from forest fires, even meteorite dust and DDT; all floating around as microscopic particles. But, that’s not all. The air we breathe has millions of dust mites and they love dead skin cells. As they devour these delicacies, the dust mites leave microscopic feces that many people and pets are allergic to.
2. Control Moisture: Mold requires moisture to grow. Check under the toilet tank for condensation and mold growth. Use a face mask and rubber gloves to clean areas where mold is suspected. Check under the sink and dishwasher periodically to insure the area is dry and leak free. Check around and in the bath tub/shower for puddles and dampness. Check windows and window sills for leaks and condensation. Without moisture mold will not grow.
3. Open Windows: On a good day, open windows to create a cross breeze in your house. This helps to increase the air changes per hour. Remember we need 4 to 6 air changes per hour to have healthy air. Use a window fan when possible to increase the air flow.
4. Air Purifiers: Often, we are unable to get 4 to 6 air changes per hour. A quality, hospital grade air purifier with charcoal and zeolite filtration helps to create healthy indoor air. An effective machine costs about $300 and up. But, the filter life is up to 5 years. Tower air purifiers collect large particles and miss the microscopic particles that cause health problems.
5. Carpets and Rugs: If you have allergies the best solution is to remove all carpets from your home. Carpets capture allergens and contaminants. Do not use chemicals to clean your carpets and rugs. The chemical residue left in your carpet causes long-term health effects. Infants and pets are especially affected by harsh chemicals and solvents. The best method is to use allergy free plant based cleaning products. If you use a carpet cleaning company make sure they are not using petrol-chemicals or harsh solvents. It’s best to “go green”.
6. Keep your gutters free of debris: A toxic form of mold can form in gutters and eaves if they are not cleaned on a regular basis. It’s a simple solution to a hazardous problem. Also, check around your property for old piles of leaves or rotting wood. This is a great environment for mold to grow.
7. Free Indoor Air Quality Checks: Some companies provide a free indoor air quality check especially where seniors, infants and pets live. A simple moisture check and a visual survey for mold growth takes less than 15 minutes. Breathing clean air is as important as drinking clean water.
Richard Mullen, Indoor Air Quality Specialist