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Healthy Homes Make a Healthy Planet

Posted by John on August 6th, 2008

Last week in the Ithica Journal, indoor air quality expert Jackie Mouillesseaux-Grube wrote about the connection between indoor air quality and human health: “Daily behavior impacts indoor air quality, so we can minimize our exposure to harmful substances and manage the overall impact air quality has on our health by considering ventilation, excessive moisture and common pollutants.”

In the article, Mouillesseaux-Grube addressed two common indoor air pollutants: household chemicals and mold.

Household Chemicals

Cleaning products, furniture, pesticides, and hobby materials are sources of household chemical pollutants. Bleach, for example, is known to exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions. Dishwasher detergents, laundry detergents, and toilet bowl cleaners typically contain bleach.

When you must use household chemicals, be sure that the area is well-ventilated. Open windows if possible. It’s best to avoid household chemicals altogether, since these chemicals not only affect indoor air quality but also pollute the environment.

Vapor Steam CleanersOne alternative to chemical cleaners is white vinegar and baking soda; you can use this mixture to disinfect toilet bowls, clean porcelain, mop floors, and even launder clothes. Another great alternative to chemical cleaners is the vapor steam cleaner, which uses only water and heat to disinfect.

Household Mold

DehumidifiersDepending on the type of mold, it can trigger reactions of an allergic, asthmatic, or toxic nature. The source of mold is moisture – from a leaky roof, a leaky pipe, or high humidity. Activities that increase humidity inculde hanging laundry indoors, cooking or showering without proper ventilation, and operating a dryer that’s not properly vented. Always use ventilation fans when cooking and showering. If moisture is still a problem (if you notice condensation building up on windows are walls), then you should invest in a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air.

A HEPA air purifier with an activated carbon filter will also remove household chemicals and mold spores from the air.

“It is essential to remember that we, as homeowners and renters, can impact the quality of the air we breathe inside our homes,” concludes Mouillesseaux-Grube. “It can be overwhelming to consider all of the pollutant sources we are exposed to daily. We can impact indoor air quality, though, by taking small steps everyday.”

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