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Many people don’t realize this, but the quality of the air in our homes is worse than the air we breathe outdoors. Sure, the environment is filled with pollutants, but these usually have somewhere to go or some way to be processed when outdoors. In your home, bad air is usually stuck inside, and it could be making your family ill.
You can start improving your home’s air quality by understanding how it could be affected by pollutants and what you can do to clear it up.
Air Quality at Home
There are many factors which impact the air quality of our homes and which could be affecting the health of your family. These include things like mold, lack of ventilation, and radon gas. Each of these can affect the overall health of your home—and of your family—in different ways, so take some time to familiarize yourself with the signs, the risks, and the steps you can take to mitigate them.
Reducing Allergens and Pollutants
There are many ways to reduce the levels of allergens and pollutants in your home. Here are a few of the most effective:
- Getting an electrostatic air filter to clean the air in your home by removing pollutants like pollen, dust mites, mold, and bacteria. Just be sure to check the MERV rating and size before you buy. The MERV rating, which goes from one to 16, is simply a measure of the filter’s effectiveness. A filter with a rating of four or less captures 20 percent of airborne particles; a 13 or higher rids the air of 90 percent of debris, including smoke and bacteria.
- Cleaning your home regularly, focusing on dust removal. Getting a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter for your vacuum can help you catch more pollutants and allergens, and/or hiring a professional cleaner regularly to deep clean and detail dust your home is invaluable.
- Use an allergen reducer to quickly get rid of fabric-dwelling allergens.
- Being smart in your renovations, prioritizing hard surfaces that don’t trap allergens and pollutants (e.g., hard floors over carpets, blinds over curtains).
- Buying houseplants that can filter out pollutants, such as aloe vera.
- Not letting mold develop in humid spaces by allowing proper ventilation and drying wet areas and cleaning regularly areas that have a tendency to be wet like your bathroom.
For more information, check out this detailed guide to reducing indoor pollutants in your home by Cigna.
Warning Signs for Common Illnesses in Children
You now know how to improve your home’s air quality, but that doesn’t mean that your children are completely safe from respiratory illnesses like asthma or respiratory tract infections. After all, they do still spend a large amount of time at their schools, nearly half of which have been found to have air-quality issues.
Keep an eye out for the following symptoms of bad air quality in your children:
- Chest pain
- Breathing too fast
- Temperature (in case of an infection)
These symptoms are generally similar to those of a viral infection like the flu, but if they are linked to an issue with air quality, they will be recurring and persistent. If you suspect that the problem may be at school, ask around to see if any other parents have noticed the above symptoms, and make sure to voice your concerns to the school.
Of course, while the air quality at home is extremely important, you’ll also want to get your family plenty of fresh air by engaging in fun outdoor activities. These don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Even activities as simple as camping in your backyard, doing some bird watching, or going on a bike ride around the neighborhood can have wonderful effects on your family’s health.
Bad air quality in the home is a dangerous thing, but it is quite easy to improve. The most important ongoing maintenance you need to do is to keep your house clean and dust-free and to regularly air out all the rooms by opening the windows. By combining this with an air filter or purifier, you can ensure a steady supply of healthy, clean air for your entire family.