Everyday pollutants can be introduced into the air of your home a number of ways. Some are carried in on a breeze; some are carried in unwittingly by you.
“A lot of things come into our homes on our clothing, including pollen and cat allergens,” says Elliott Horner, lead scientist for UL Environment (Underwriters Laboratories).
Other pollutants originate inside the home, such as when you pet your dog and release dander into the air or burn a piece of toast and send smoke streaming into the kitchen. It’s difficult not to generate indoor air pollution in your home, Horner says.
To get rid of impurities, you need to pursue several lines of attack. Follow the checklist below to help minimize indoor air pollution.
1. Open windows
Adequate ventilation is key to promoting healthy indoor air, and opening windows (when it’s not too cold or the pollen count isn't too high, of course) is an easy way to encourage a good exchange of indoor and outdoor air.
2. Ban smoking
“Absolutely no cigarette smoke,” says Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific adviser for the American Lung Association. Secondhand smoke impairs respiratory health and is responsible for about 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year in nonsmokers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
3. Give your pets a bath
If you have pets, bathe them and wash their bedding often to reduce allergy-causing dander. And we hate to break it to you, but you should also keep them out of your bed.
4. Use exhaust fans
Run fans in the kitchen to remove cooking fumes and in bathrooms to remove steam. Also be sure that your dryer vents to the outside to minimize lint. To reduce the level of pollen in the air on days it’s not possible to open the windows, run your window air conditioner on the fan setting with a clean filter.
5. Put down a doormat
Wiping shoes can reduce pollutants carried into the house. Better yet, establish a shoes-off policy.
6. Change filters
If you have a forced-air heating and cooling system, change the air filters more often when there's more smoke or pollen in the air.
7. Douse fires
Flames dancing in a fireplace look delightful, but they release soot and smoke into the air.
8. Don’t cover up odors
Avoid air fresheners, scented candles, incense and other odor-masking fragrances, which can trigger asthma.
9. Vacuum often
Do this especially if you have a pet. Brooms can just stir up more dust.
10. Use a microfiber dusting cloth
It will capture more dust than a cotton rag.
11. Minimize carpeting
It can trap pollutants such as dust mites, pet dander, mold spores and other dirt and dust. Choose hard-surface flooring instead.
12. Keep air dry
To reduce mold, keep moisture down by using a dehumidifier and cleaning the filter regularly.
13. Store chemicals safely
Store solvents, glues and pesticides away from living areas. And when possible, use homemade cleaning products, such as a mixture of white vinegar and water.
14. Try an air purifier
An air purifier alone won't remove all the impurities in your indoor air. But if you’ve gone to the effort to keep allergens and other pollutants out of your home, an air purifier could help to reduce them further. And running one in the bedroom of a child who suffers from asthma certainly won’t hurt and may even be of some benefit.