Our society spends a majority of time inside, making indoor air quality a very important concern. When you hear the word “pollution,” you probably picture smoke stacks and car exhaust. Those are generated outside, so indoor air is cleaner, right? Not necessarily. Thousands of pollutants swirl around indoor air due to daily activities, off-gassing of building materials, and improperly used appliances.
If clean indoor air is your goal, be sure to avoid the following top five worst recommendations we’re ever heard about air quality.
- Smoke Inside to Your Heart’s Content
When you smoke, you inhale more than 4,000 different chemicals, at least 50 of which are known to cause cancer. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but it’s true: smoking is very harmful. When you smoke indoors, you subject your family members to secondhand smoke. This particularly affects children, since secondhand smoke can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and ear infections. To prevent indoor air from becoming tainted with cigarette smoke, always smoke outside away from windows and doors. For your own health, strive to quit as soon as you can.
- Clean Liberally with Bleach
Harsh cleaning chemicals emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can cause eye, nose and throat irritation along with other more harmful, long-term health effects. However, this is no excuse to never clean your home; simply turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom or open a kitchen window the next time you’re disinfecting surfaces with bleach in these rooms. This should happen only occasionally, though. To improve indoor air quality, opt for natural cleaners that don’t contain harsh chemicals.
- Control Insects and Rodents with Pesticides
According to the EPA, about 80 percent of people’s exposure to pesticides occurs indoors. Of course, you don’t want termites, ants, mice or other pests running amok, but you also don’t want to produce high levels of pesticides inside your home. After all, the “-cide” in pesticide means “to kill.” These products can be very dangerous if used improperly. To prevent harming you or your family, use pesticides strictly according to the package directions and only after non-chemical attempts have proved unsuccessful. Open windows in the treated area to increase ventilation and store pesticides in tightly sealed containers outside the home, such as in a shed or garage.
- Choose Pressed Wood Cabinetry and Furniture
Formaldehyde is a common chemical used to manufacture many types of building materials, including the adhesive used in pressed wood products. Particleboard, plywood paneling, medium density fiberboard and oriented strand board are all examples of pressed wood products. Formaldehyde is a pungent-smelling gas that can cause burning or watery eyes, nausea and difficulty breathing at high exposure levels. Most homes contain formaldehyde in concentrations less than 0.1 parts per million. However, if you recently installed a significant number of pressed wood products, levels could exceed 0.3 parts per million, which is when negative health effects start to be seen. Preserve indoor air quality by avoiding pressed wood products and furniture made with adhesives containing urea-formaldehyde (UF) resins.
- Use Your Charcoal Grill Inside
In the winter, it’s too cold to grill outside, so why not bring the grill into the living room and get that summertime feeling back? Bad idea. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning charcoal. When grilling outside, fumes dissipate harmlessly, but grilling in an enclosed space could be very dangerous. After all, carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t go well with burgers and hotdogs. Don’t fall for horrible indoor air quality advice. If you have any questions about maintaining good indoor air quality, contact Aire Serv® today.