With so much attention placed on the diesel exhaust, smog, and carbon monoxide that pollute our outside air, it’s easy to overlook the quality of the air inside your Florence home. Experts say that typical Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors, which suggests that indoor air quality may be even more important than outdoor air quality.
Poor indoor air causes serious health effects such as allergies, asthma, headaches, and chronic fatigue. Over time, poor IAQ can result in cancer, kidney disease, or liver damage.
Although poor IAQ stems from many sources, those sources frequently fall into two categories: allergens and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Understanding these indoor pollutants is key to maintaining good indoor air quality and keeping your family healthy.
Allergies: Not Just An Outdoor Problem
An allergen is any material that triggers a response from your immune system. In response to this allergen invader, your immune system releases chemicals that cause symptoms such as runny eyes, sneezing, swelling, or red patches or hives on the skin.
Dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and mold are a few indoor allergens that can make life miserable for your family. These particles cling to curtains, walls, furniture, bedding, and other surfaces, often for several months.
Using a vacuum that has a HEPA (high efficiency particle accumulator) filter, changing your HVAC filters, and regularly washing bedding are a few hygienic practices you can use that will improve your indoor air and reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms. In addition, preventing allergens from entering your home is critical to relieving the symptoms of allergy sufferers:
- Place doormats at each outside entrance, one inside and one outside.
- Leave your shoes at the door.
- Exhaust kitchen and bathroom fans outside rather than re-circulating the air or venting them into the attic.
- Restrict your pet to one area of your home.
- Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows to seal cracks.
- Check HVAC ductwork for leaks; seal as needed.
VOCs: Sneaky Vapors That Sometimes Smell Nice
Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that contain carbon and easily evaporate. They are emitted as gases from solids or liquids; this process is sometimes referred to as off-gassing. Common chemicals released include formaldehyde, ammonia, and benzene, which aggravate allergies and other health problems.
It’s easy to recognize some VOCs, such as those from varnish, new carpeting, or paint. You might also be familiar with the VOCs in cleaning solutions such as bleach, dry cleaning, or oven cleaners. Other products that contain these harmful chemicals, however, might surprise you:
- Air fresheners
- Scented candles
- Dishwashing liquid
- Perfume and cologne
- Fabric softener
- Glass cleaners
Because volatile organic compounds are found in so many products, you won’t be able to eliminate these compounds entirely from your home. Here are a few tips on how to avoid VOCs and still keep your home clean:
- Use essential oils, potpourri, or spices for fragrance.
- Use vinegar and water for cleaning countertops and glass.
- Opt for blinds or shades rather than drapes; opt for machine-washable drape fabric rather than dry-cleanable.
- Choose VOC-free paint, cleaning products, and building materials.
- Buy only the amount of product you need when you need it as stored chemicals are a significant source of out-gassing. Throw away unused containers.
- If possible, replace carpeting with hardwood flooring.
- Vacuum slowly so that you don’t simply rearrange the dust. Vacuum a minimum of twice a week, and empty the bag outside.
- Use baking soda instead of scouring powders in toilets.
If you’re curious about the indoor air quality in your Hebron, Burlington, Florence, Union, or surrounding cities in your Northern Kentucky area home or business, air check out the air quality solutions we offer at The Furnace Doctor or call us. We’ll help you assess your IAQ and provide solutions that keep your family safe, healthy, and comfortable.