If you’re old enough to remember the “energy crisis” in the mid-1970s, you’ll understand the movement to build energy efficient homes. At the time, OPEC imposed an embargo on oil exports and increased the price of oil four fold.
The home construction industry responded with tighter construction and better insulation and roofing.
Those with older homes also installed better insulation and roofing to prevent heat from escaping. All of this did save on energy, but hindered the natural flow of fresh, outside air typical of older homes.
The result is that indoor air quality became more toxic. In a study released in September of 2016, researchers at the Milden Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University discovered 10 harmful chemicals found in 90% of the dust samples they collected in homes. The chemicals are known as harmful, especially to infants and young children.
So besides dust, what other harmful contaminants are in the air in most American homes? We ran across a company that sells indoor air purification systems that had some great info on indoor air quality. You can check it out here.
Let’s take a look at indoor air pollution and ways you can take the bite out of the toxins in your home.
Molds produce allergens and irritants that cause sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash. Mold is a fungus that needs water to grow. So the usual source for mold in your house is from places that moisture accumulates. Controlling moisture is key to eliminating mold.
Keep a comfortable indoor humidity of 30-60%. Vent bathrooms, dryers, and other sources of water and steam in your home. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers work well along with exhaust fans when you’re cooking. Also, keep an eye on leaks from indoor pipes and seepage in the cellar or attic.
If you’re a happy dog or cat owner, you can’t imagine life without your pet. But they produce allergens from their skin, saliva, urine, and feces. The microscopic pet allergens remain suspended in the air for a long time and they stick to furniture, bedding, and fabrics. Pet dander leads to congestions, sneezing, runny nose, wheezing, and tightness in the chest.
Keeping your pet clean and frequent vacuuming are the solution here. With a pet in the house, think about vacuuming with a heavy duty HEPA filter, plus use a quality air purifier.
Fireplace and Cooking Smoke
Many of us here in the Mohawk Valley enjoy our wood burning stoves or fireplaces during our long winters. But wood smoke contains several toxic pollutants. Some of those are benzene, formaldehyde, acrolein, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Also, indoor scientists are studying home cooking and its hazardous impact on air quality. They’re finding unhealthy levels of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide in homes from cooking. So cooking hoods and quality air purifiers are the best ways to keep indoor air clean while cooking.
Indoor air quality isn’t something most of us think about. But we thought it would be a good idea for you to know how to get more fresh air into your home. Opening windows when the weather permits is a great way to eliminate toxins. But quality air purifiers and tenacious vacuuming and cleaning are also important.
And if you or anyone in your family does suffer from respiratory problems, ask your doctor whether it could be the air in your home. If it is, now you might be able to find some relief.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
SZW Insurance is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.