Indoor Air Pollution

What can you do to protect your family?

Why is indoor air pollution an issue?

The effects of indoor air pollutants range from short-term effects – eye and throat irritation – to long-term effects – respiratory disease and cancer. Exposure to high levels of some pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, can even result in immediate death. Also, some indoor pollutants can magnify the effects of other indoor pollutants. Based on cancer risk alone, federal scientists have ranked indoor air pollution as one of the most important environmental problems in the United States.

How to prevent indoor air pollution:

Minimize Chemical Pollutants

  • Avoid smoking indoors. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of indoor pollutants at high concentrations.

  • Minimize the use of harsh cleaners, solvent-based cleaners or cleaners with strong fragrances.

  • Certain activities, such as paint stripping, hobby soldering or gluing, painting, sanding and rock polishing, may create high levels of pollution and should be performed outside.

  • Control car and appliance exhaust. Do not idle cars, lawnmowers or other engines in the garage, especially those that are attached to the house.

Keep it Clean

  • Buy machine washable bedding. Wash pillows, sheets and comforters weekly to reduce exposure to allergens, including dust mites.

  • Consider removing shoes at the door to minimize dust and dirt tracked in from the outdoors.

  • Place walk off mats at all entrances to your home.

  • Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuum cleaners with disposable bags and microfiber cloths for surface dust removal.

Control Moisture

  • Keep homes dry. Control relative humidity levels to less than 60 percent, using dehumidifiers if necessary. Clean humidifiers frequently.

  • Repair all leaks promptly.

  • If there has been a flood or water damage, take immediate action and remove the water and wet materials. Dry all porous materials and furnishings within 48 hours. If mold grows on any porous materials, such as drywall, ceiling tiles or wood, discard and replace.

  • Run bathroom exhaust fans while showering.

  • House plants can improve indoor air quality by filtering carbon dioxide; however, if they are over-watered, they can encourage mold growth.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

  • Open doors and windows when temperature and humidity levels permit. However, be mindful of outdoor allergens during spring and fall seasons.

  • Make sure that mechanical filters are in place, that they fit well and that they are changed periodically according to manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Make sure that fuel burning furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, range tops, exhaust fans and other appliances are vented to the outside well away from windows and heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) intakes.