Spring and Summer are excellent time to get outdoors and breathe fresh air. Many of us in Ohio can hardly wait to open our windows. But soon, when it gets too hot, the windows will close and we’ll switch from fresh to conditioned air.
Unfortunately, the air we breathe inside can be worse than outside. Bacteria, pet dander, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and even pollen might be affecting the air quality of your home. Some contaminants trigger allergic reactions while others can cause infectious illnesses like the flu, measles and chicken pox.
Even humidity can be problematic. Standing water, water damaged or chronically wet surfaces are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, insects, mildew and mold. Molds and mildews release disease-causing mycotoxins into the air. Due to their small size, many biological contaminants can be inhaled.
Some diseases have been traced back to dust and mold in home cooling and heating systems and humidifiers, which then disperses it throughout the entire home.
- digestive problems
- shortness of breath
- watery eyes
If you suspect your home may be at the root of your health concerns, start with simple and affordable solutions.
First of all, keep your home clean. While it may be impossible to keep a housecompletely dust free, you can dust and vacuum regularly. Be aware that vacuuming can actually cause an increase in airborne contaminants. Using highly-efficiency HEPA filters in your vacuum cleaners helps contain impurities. If you or a loved one suffers with allergies, pay special attention while vacuuming.
Secondly, keeping kitchen counters clean, dishes washed and food put away helps prevent unwanted pests like flies and cockroaches which carry germs and disease. Properly storing food helps prevent it from molding.
In addition, keeping bathrooms dry, clean and floors picked up will help to counter mold. Taking hot steamy showers increases the humidy in the air, giving mildew a perfect playground in which to thrive. Using a ceiling fan vented to the outdoors reduces the humidity as does leaving the door open after you towel off (remember to hang your towel!)
If you have a basement, inspect it thoroughly for cracks, signs of leaking or mold on the walls, floor or joists. Basements are notoriously musty because aren’t waterproof. Others will remain dry until a rain storm comes along and then you might see water on the floor or springing through the walls. It’s a good practice to check your basement periodically.
Remove standing water and run a dehumidifier to decrease high levels of humidity to the acceptable 30-50 percent. Remove any porous wet and/or moldy building materials because once these are affected it is difficult if not impossible to restore to an uncontaminated state. It may also be necessary to hire professionals to clean duct work as they often harbor dust and mold spores.
For even more helpful tips on air quality in your home, check out this article by Denise Mann on Web MD.