Fixes for 4 Indoor Air Quality Issues

January 21, 2015

Fixes for 4 Indoor Air Quality Issues

You’ve been out all day and can’t wait to get home, away from diesel-belching buses and pollen-spewing trees. Unfortunately, you won’t necessarily escape pollution by heading indoors. In fact, indoor air may be even more polluted than what’s outdoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are four indoor air polluters and what you can do about them.

1. Cooking

Surprisingly, preparing meals may be one of the top ways to reduce your home’s air quality. “Cooking with natural gas or at high temperatures in the oven or on your range gives off particles and chemicals, including formaldehyde and other toxic gases,” says Elliott Horner, Ph.D., indoor air quality expert at UL Environment, a global independent safety science company.

The Fix: Turn your kitchen exhaust fan on high when you cook, suggests green cleaning expert Leslie Reichert, author of “The Joy of Green Cleaning.” If your fan doesn’t vent to the outside, open a kitchen window and use a small fan to move air outdoors, she adds.

2. Electronics

Whether it’s the flatscreen on the wall or the toaster on the kitchen counter, electronics are everywhere in the home. Yet, according to Horner, when these gadgets and appliances warm up, “the heat they generate reacts with adhesives and plastics inside the product and releases toxic chemicals.”

The Fix: Don’t worry — you don’t have to give up all of your electronics. Good ventilation will do the trick, so all you have to do is open your windows from time to time to bring in some fresh air.

3. Candles

Scented candles do a beautiful job of masking odors and giving off a soft, romantic glow. There are several ways to introduce fragrance into your home with an eye towards good air quality.

The Fix: Beeswax or vegetable oil candles infused with essential oils, such as these soy candles, are a great choice. Another beautiful and effective way to bring lovely scents into your home is by using an essential oil diffuser. Want the ambiance of a candle without the fragrance? Try unscented beeswax or soy candles or use LED candles for a flame-free, scent-free glow.

4. Mattresses

Curling up in bed for a good night of sleep is so refreshing that it’s easy to forget that our mattresses can house dust mites and other allergens. While most people aren’t greatly affected by these pollutants, they can be a problem for those of us with asthma or allergies. So how can you dispel visions of allergens and still get your zzz’s?

The Fix : First, make sure to vacuum mattresses every week or two. If dust mites and other allergens are a problem, use allergy-proof mattress covers on all mattresses. “This will keep allergens away from your face as you sleep,” Reichert says. Finally, wash all bedding in hot water each week. If your asthma or allergies are still bothering you in the bedroom, consider an air cleaner with a HEPA filter for an extra measure of protection.

Karen B. Gibbs

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