There’s that feeling sometimes, when you arrive home after a long day at work, or when you and the kids head back inside after a Saturday morning of sports when you get in, close the door and take in that satisfied breath of finally being home in your space, and your home. On those super Aussie hot days, you most likely then reach for your remote and turn on your ducted air conditioning.
Most people tend to think of air pollution as something that exists external to the home like smog or haze. But in actuality, the quality of air inside the home can also be just as polluted as the atmosphere outside. Some pollutants are brought into the home by feet or pets. However, there are also in-house pollutants from dust, radon, paint, mould, fire-retardants or even chemicals that can be found in the fragrances of conventional cleaners.
We tend to think of air pollution as something outside -- smog, ozone, or haze hanging in the air, especially in summer. But the truth is, the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can be more polluted than the air outside. The air inside your home may be polluted by lead (in house dust), formaldehyde, fire-retardants, and radon, even volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners. Some pollutants are tracked into the home. Some arrive via a new mattress or furniture, carpet cleaners, or a coat of paint on the walls.
Well considering all of this, how do you keep the air you breathe in so fully and comfortable fresh and clean for you and your family?
Here are five things you can do:
1. Smoke Free Zone
One of the more obvious, we as a society are now more aware than ever of the dangers associated with smoking as well as passive smoking. Keep your home environment free of the more than 4000 chemicals that are found in cigarettes, and keep the smoking outside.
2. Keep Floors Clean
Vacuuming your floors regularly can keep household dust that accumulates at bay. You can also help to reduce concentrations of lead in your home, as well as other toxins, pet dander, dust mites and dirt.
Mopping up the remaining dust is also very effective. You don’t necessarily need to use many chemicals to do this.
Not welcome here! Use mats where possible to detract as much dirt and dust from your home, and leave them at the entry points, instead of visitors tracking them all the way inside.
3. Maintain a Healthy Level of Humidity
In a move to prevent dust mites, and especially mould it’s important to keep an eye on the level of humidity in the home. The ‘safe zone’ for this is usually around 30-50% that helped to keep them under control. Air conditioning during the summer months helps to regulate and reduce moisture in the air effectively into eh home. It also helps to reduce indoor pollen count.
Additionally you can:
- Use an exhaust fan while cooking
- Don’t overwater houseplants
- Vent your clothes dryer to the outside
4. Testing for Radon
Testing for Radon is inexpensive, and does not take long to conduct. Radon is actually a radioactive gas, derived from the natural decay of uranium found in soils. It can move into your home, coming up from the ground through cracks and holes in the foundation. Drafty, airtight and some of the older terrace homes can develop this problem. If you do discover Radon, there are actually some simple ways to reduce these problems to acceptable levels. See ‘The Environmental Protection Agency for ‘Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction’.
5. Use Natural Cleaning Products
With most products being derived from petroleum products, you can guess how their use may not be ideal for your health. Some synthetic fragrances that you come across in laundry products or air fresheners for example emit dozens of different chemicals in the air. Other culprits include conventional fabric softeners, laundry detergents and air fresheners in all forms.
While you and your family may enjoy the smell of clean clothes, or that strong musk, lemon or pine scent it may well serve you to think and investigate a little harder, and pay a little smarter the next time you shop for cleaning products. Protect your family and pets by looking for fragrance-free products, make the switch to mild cleaners, avoid using aerosol sprays, carpet cleaners and furniture polish and let in that fresh air!