Common Methods to Control Indoor Air Pollution
The three main methods to control indoor air pollution include eliminating the source of the pollution or decreasing emissions, increasing ventilation in the home, or utilizing some form of air cleaning, usually with an air purifier of some sort. This article will focus on the first, and most important of these methods, source control.
Source Removal Methods to Control Indoor Air Pollution
By far, the most effective and cost-efficient methods to control indoor air pollution is by controlling the source. This is done by simply removing the source altogether or decreasing, sealing in, or enclosing the source if it is not easily removed. So, let’s take a look at some sources of indoor air pollution and how we might be able to eliminate or reduce their emissions into our home’s air supply.
Biological contaminates include things like mold and mildew, animal dander, human skin cells, dust mites, cockroaches, and pollen.
Mold and mildew are major allergen sources and be controlled by keeping your home at the proper relative humidity, usually between 30 and 50 percent is recommended. Repair all water leaks, leaking pipes, and remove all visible mold wherever it is found. Check out this article “Do I Have a Mold Problem in My Home?” for an in-depth look at mold and how to control it.
Dust is a Major Source of Indoor Air Pollution
Animal dander and human skin cells make up the majority of dust found in all homes. Dust mites use these as a food source. As a result, dust mite droppings, a known allergen, make up a large portion of the dust laying around your home. Keeping dust to a minimum by routine cleaning is one of the best methods to control indoor air pollution in your home.
Check out “18 Ways to Get Rid of Household Dust” for a comprehensive look at how to control dust in your home.
Controlling cockroaches and other pests in your home is relatively easy. Start by keeping your home surfaces clean. Don’t leave food out, keep floors mopped, and make sure your window screens are in good shape. “Natural Pest Control for Your Home” is a great article that offers up a myriad of solutions for the most common pest problems folks see in their homes.
Environmental contaminates are pollutants such as tobacco smoke, household products, pesticides, asbestos, lead, radon, carpet emissions, and emissions from stoves, heaters, fireplaces, and chimneys.
Cigarette smoke is very difficult to remove. The smell remains long after the smoker has left the building. For this reason, it is simply best to never allow anyone to smoke in you home. If you are living with a smoker, or have recently moved into a smoker’s home, you have your work cut out for you. Check out “Will Air Purifiers Remove Cigarette Smoke?” for more information on this.
Go Green to Control Indoor Air Pollution
Many of today’s common household products contain VOC’s that add to the pollution in your home. Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOC’s as they are known, are emitted from most home cleaners, air fresheners, bug sprays, candles, incense, essential oils, and laundry detergents. VOC’s are harmful chemicals that can have adverse effects on your body. Going with VOC free, or ‘green’ products that are now commonly found on the shelf is a great method to control indoor air pollution by lowering the overall VOC levels in your home.
Not all VOC’s are so easily eliminated. Your carpets, along with most of the furnishings in your home are also a major source of VOC emissions.
By using a good HEPA equipped vacuum to keep your carpets as clean as possible will help reduce indoor air contaminates. VOC’s from the carpet fibers will still be present but reduced with routine cleaning.
Control Combustion Sources to Control Indoor Air Pollution
Gas burning stoves, fireplaces whether gas or traditional, and gas heaters can all be major sources of hazardous contaminates in your home. Keep heating units clean and tuned up for maximum performance and verify vent ducts are leak free and fully routed out of your home. Check chimneys for air leaks, clogged exhaust stacks, and properly working flow control to prevent backflow of dangerous gases into the home heating and cooling ductwork is clean and leak tight. Replace filters regularly, making sure to use the right MERV rated filter.
Other contaminates such as lead, asbestos, or radon is less likely an issue that other, more common issues. This is not to say that they are less of a danger than the others. On the contrary, they pose a serious health risk to you and your family. If you suspect you have one of these issues in your home, please use a certified contractor to check things out to be sure. These issues require more expertise than the average DIYer. Don’t take chances, hire a professional!