Many homes contain allergens, chemical gases and other hidden pollutants that have a direct affect on health and comfort. Indoor levels of many pollutants are often higher than outdoor levels due to the confined nature of the home. Improving your indoor air quality is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family's safety and health.
Removing the Sources
Reduce radon - Have your home tested for a common dangerous, carcinogenic gas called radon, which is a natural result of the breakdown of rock and soil. If it's present, there are different measures that can be taken to reduce radon levels.
Reduce carbon monoxide - Another potential serious problem in a home is carbon monoxide (CO). Every home should have carbon monoxide detectors installed on each level. Common sources of CO include poorly-functioning gas-powered furnaces, water heaters and clothes dryers. Additional sources include blocked fireplace or woodstove flues. In addition to having CO detectors, prevent these problems by having your HVAC system serviced regularly and your fireplace or stove flues cleaned by a professional chimney sweep.
Remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) - VOCs affect indoor air quality in nearly every home. Levels of these pollutants may be highest in new constructions or newly renovated homes. VOCs include but are not limited to the known toxins benzene and formaldehyde. Common sources are cleaning chemicals, synthetic carpets, air deodorizers, pressed wood, adhesives, paint solvents and vinyl items.
To control levels of VOCs in your home, there are several precautions you can take. Replace chemical cleaners with green cleaners and pressed wood products with natural wood. Choose ceramic or stone tile over vinyl flooring, and avoid vinyl shower curtains and other synthetic products that have a distinctive chemical odor when you take them out of the packaging. The odor is usually the result of VOCs off-gassing. When selecting new carpeting, choose one that's classified as low-VOC or hypoallergenic. Instead of using turpentine and other traditional paint thinners, use the new eco-friendly low-VOC products. These are typically soy-based or citrus-based.
Remove organic particulates - The organic particulates include pet dander, dust, mold, rodent and bug droppings and pollen. The best ways to control these types of pollutants is to keep your home clean and to manage indoor humidity levels. Vacuum flooring once a week at minimum to keep dust, pet dander and pollen levels lower. To inhibit mold, address wet or damp areas by cleaning and drying them quickly. As high humidity can also contribute to mold, install a whole-house dehumidifier or use individual room dehumidifiers. Control rodents and bugs in the home by eliminating points of entry, keeping the home clean of food particles, and calling a professional exterminator if necessary.
Many homes, and especially tightly-sealed homes, lack adequate ventilation. Good ventilation is necessary for carrying away bad indoor air and allowing fresh air into the home.
Implement exhaust fans in bathrooms and the kitchen to remove dampness and cooking fumes.
- Keep attic vents unobstructed.
- Consider adding an attic fan or whole-house fan for additional ventilation.
- Change air filters in HVAC systems at least every two months.
- Don't forget ductwork, which also affects your indoor air quality.
Consider duct cleaning to prevent a buildup of dust and other irritants inside the ductwork.
Clean the Air
- You can have your HVAC system transformed to accommodate HEPA filters or high MERV-rated filters. These are capable of trapping smaller particles than standard filters.
- Have an ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) HVAC system installed. This may destroy some biological contaminants. However, they will not eliminate the most common household pollutants, such as VOCs.
- Use an electronic air cleaner or ionizer. It electrically charges air molecules and sterilizes the air.
For more information about indoor air quality and other issues related to your home’s comfort and safety, please contact the pros at Comfort24-7. We proudly serve Chicago as well as areas of northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan.