As Americans, we understand that outdoor pollutants not only affect the Earth’s well-being but our personal health as well. That’s why each day many of us recycle, use mass transit, drive hybrid vehicles, and take other green measures to protect the environment. However, most of us consider our homes a haven—never realizing that our indoor air could be even more polluted than the air outside. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air can be two to five times (and sometimes 100 times) more polluted than outdoor air! This is further compounded by the fact that Americans spend up to 90% of their time indoors.
To promote awareness about the importance of healthy indoor air, February is National Care About Your Indoor Air Month. Now is a great time to check the air quality in your home. While it can be difficult to pinpoint all of the pollutants in your indoor environment, there are factors that may indicate less-than-stellar air quality. For example:
- Do you have mold, mildew, or musty odors in your home?
- Does the air in your home often seem stuffy or stale?
- Have you noticed cracks in your wood furnishings or chipped paints?
- Do you use a source of heat other than electric, such as kerosene or wood?
- Have you changed or cleaned your air filters lately?
If you have any of these issues, don’t immediately declare your home unlivable and search for greener pastures. The vast majority of indoor air quality issues can be remedied by eliminating the pollution sources and diligently monitoring your home to ensure that the problems don’t return.
For example, if you suspect that your home has a mold problem, use a mold test kit to get a handle on the type and severity of your problem. Mold is typically caused by excess moisture in your home, so adding a dehumidifier to the affected area will help remove unnecessary moisture and keep the mold problem at bay.
While dehumidifiers can help improve the air in your environment, there is still the issue of existing mold. Try a green cleaning solution like a steam cleaner to remove this mold without the use of harsh chemicals that can further damage your environment.
Mold isn’t the only pollutant that can affect your indoor air. Your home’s air could also be compromised by dust, dust mites, pollen, and other allergens, as well as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other chemicals.
For more detailed information about the top sources of indoor air pollution, visit Air Purifier Guide.