air filters

Dirty air filters can contribute to air pollution in your home. ATTRUBTION: Ryan Gsell (Flickr)

Did you know that invisible toxins are likely to be lingering in your living room? Pollution levels are typically two to five times higher inside your home than outside. At any given time, the average home contains mold, pollen, and fumes from harsh chemicals. While most of us do our best to keep our homes clean and tidy, that isn’t always enough. To prevent health hazards, consider other ways that you may be contributing to air pollution in your home and how to fix them.

Change Your Air Filters

Your air filters play a role in how well your heating, ventilation, and cooling systems work to heat, clean, and cool the air in your home. Aim to change your furnace filter every four to six weeks during the heating season. Air conditioner filters should be changed about once a month during the cooling season. Ignoring your air filter replacement can lead to several problems, such as reduced system efficiency and extra system wear and tear.

Switch to Natural Cleaners

The use of harsh household cleaners can give off fumes that irritate the skin and respiratory system. Individuals with certain respiratory conditions, such as asthma, may also notice their symptoms worsening due to inflammation. By switching to natural cleaning products, you can avoid the use of heavy chemicals that cause and exacerbate health conditions.

Don’t Smoke Indoors

Cigarette smoke is one of the most common indoor air pollutants. As cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, secondhand smoke puts others in the home at risk for developing asthma, ear and respiratory infections, and other health problems. Smoke can also stick to walls and be absorbed into carpets and upholstery fabrics, causing the odor to linger. If you must smoke, move it outdoors.

Maintain a Healthy Humidity Level

Take notice of the humidity level in your home. You should aim for an average humidity of 30 to 50 percent. Mold, dust mites, and other allergens thrive on moisture. When you run a dehumidifier during the cooler months and an air conditioner during the warmer months, you can help reduce moisture in the air and better control allergens. You can also dehumidify your home in other ways, such as using an exhaust fan while cooking or showering or fixing leaky plumbing, which can contribute to mold growth.

Dust on a Regular Basis

Dusting is not a fun chore, but it’s an essential one. Dust absorbs toxic gases like radon and VOCs, making it a leading source of air pollution in the home. Dust on a routine basis to prevent a buildup of harmful toxins. When removing dust from surfaces, go slowly. As you clean, you lift dust off of surfaces and release it into the air. Use a vacuum attachment or a damp microfiber cloth to better trap dust.

Introduce House Plants

House plants are beneficial in the home because they help improve air quality by filtering carbon dioxide from the air. However, it’s important not to over-water your plants, as this can encourage mold growth. Some houseplants are known to be more effective than others in reducing air pollution, such as gerbera daisies, aloe vera, English ivy, peace lilies, and spider plants.