Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
Something many people don’t realize is that the air inside our homes and offices can often be more polluted than the air outside. Some common indoor home pollutants include lead (in house dust), fire-retardants, radon, formaldehyde, biological contaminants (like mold and pollen), tobacco smoke, household products and pesticides, pet dander (even if you don’t have pets), carbon monoxide, and many other chemicals.
Many of these pollutants are unknowingly brought into the home via new furniture, carpet cleaners, or even in the paint you use. Sometimes the effects of indoor pollutants are immediate, while other times it might not be apparent until years later. Therefore, it’s important to take precautions to help ensure you are not regularly inhaling harmful pollutants while in your home or office.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to immediately improve your air quality:
This is the single most important aspect of preventing harmful air pollution inside your home. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals including more than 40 cancer causing agents and 200 known poisons. Secondhand smoke can cause ear and respiratory infections, asthma, and even cancer. Plus, when it comes to releasing carbon monoxide into the air, cigarettes average more than 600 times the concentration that is considered safe in industrial plants, where carbon monoxide poisoning is a constant danger.
With homes being airtight, the likelihood of these harmful chemicals escaping is unlikely. If you or someone in your household insists on smoking inside, invest in a quality smoke eater in a dedicated smoking room coupled with effective whole house filtration and air purification to help clean the air of the multiple pollutants.
Change Filters Regularly
Central air conditioners and heaters have filters to trap dust and other pollutants in the air. Make sure to change or clean the filters regularly, following the instructions on the package.
Test for Radon
New and old homes alike are prone to this colorless, odorless gas that will significantly raise your risk of lung cancer. It is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. Any type of home can potentially have a radon problem so it’s important to have your home properly inspected. A radon test is easy, inexpensive, and takes only a few minutes.
Get more information on home radon testing in Florida here.
Use Natural Fragrances
Synthetic fragrances that are used in many household cleaning products emit dozens of different chemicals into the air. This includes laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and all types of air fresheners (solid, spray, and oil form).
Keep in mind that these chemicals are not included on the label and typically just say “fragrance” because that is all that is required by law to be listed. So, next time you go shopping look for fragrance-free or naturally-scented laundry products, stop using aerosol sprays of all kinds, open your windows and let in fresh air more often, or try using sliced lemons and baking soda to get a clean scent in your kitchen.
Keep Your Floors Clean
When using a vaccum, be sure it has a strong suction and a HEPA filter. This will help eliminate concentrations of lead in your home as well as ensure dust and dirt don’t get blown back out in the exhaust. For best results, vacuum two or three times per week and wash out your filter regularly.
For non-carpeted flooring, it’s suggested that you vacuum first then mop to pick up anything left behind. You can use just plain water and microfiber mops typically capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers.
Also, keep a large floor mat at every door. All sorts of chemicals and pollutants are brought in on people’s shoes and a door mat will help reduce what is brought into your home.
Keep a Healthy Level of Humidity in Your Home
The humidity inside your home can affect the concentrations of some indoor air pollutants. For example, high humidity keeps the air moist and increases the likelihood of mold.
The US Environmental Protection Agency suggests you keep indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. Use a moisture or humidity gauge to see if the humidity in your home is at a safe level. If you need to increase your humidity, though probably not as likely here in Florida, use a vaporizer or humidifier. Oftentimes, decreasing your humidity can be as easy as turning on your AC.
Open Your Windows
This tip seems simple enough but during the summer months in Florida we tend to keep every window and door shut and crank the AC around the clock. By simply increasing the amount of fresh air brought indoors you will reduce the amount of pollutants inside. You can also choose to run your AC with the vent control open, just remember to switch it back.
Bathroom and kitchen fans that exhaust to the outdoors also create ventilation and help remove pollutants so remember to run those frequently as well. And always remember to properly ventilate your home while using cleaning products.
We hope you find these tips to be helpful and easy to follow. The important thing to keep in mind is that making just a few changes in your routine can greatly contribute to a healthier home.
If you are looking for an expert in the area of air testing be sure to check out our preferred vendor, Air MD.We frequently work with them and they are a great resource for scientific air testing. And of course, when Baxter Restoration visits your home for any disaster including mold, flooding, or fire damage, we’ll always inspect and treat your home for related air pollutants that may have occurred.
Baxter Restoration recently joined forces with Dorado Aqua Cops to make repairs and secure the food pantry facility located on the campus of Pine Crest Elementary School in Sanford, Florida. The project was facilitated by the non-profit organization, Bring Change, whose goal is to connect resources, facilitate programs, and fund transitional housing to bring change to the lives of the homeless in Seminole County.
Baxter Restoration donated all materials needed to get the facility ready for the 2012-2013 school year including plywood used to secure all exterior windows, fluorescent lights, and paint. While Dorado Aqua Cops provided all of the labor. Jesse Walsh, Executive Director of Bring Change, shared that, “ Bring Change is so appreciative of the generous donation from Baxter Restoration and Dorado Aqua Cops for the time and services needed to get the Pine Crest Food Pantry up and running. Their donation will benefit close to 100 families and we are grateful for their partnership.”
Food pantries have been established at several area high-need schools throughout Central Florida to serve as a secure place to store food supply donations that are distributed weekly to those families in need. Currently, there are 1,800 students in Seminole County who qualify to receive the donations; up from 1,700 at the end of the previous school year. The new food pantry at Pine Crest Elementary School will provide for 97 homeless families; the highest number in Seminole County.
Students receive backpacks full of food to take home on Friday each week, to ensure the children are fed during the weekend. Dave Baxter, President of Baxter Restoration, commented, “The numbers are staggering and growing each day. Baxter Restoration is proud to be a part of a project that assists so many children in need who reside where we live and work and go about our daily lives.”