No one likes to think of their home as being a source of health hazards, especially since it’s supposed to be a place of safety. But health hazards do indeed exist in the home and many of them are airborne. Enough exposure over time can exacerbate existing conditions like asthma and allergies and irritate sensitive membranes for those who don’t have these issues. Here are some tips you can use to protect your family from these hazards so everyone can breathe easy.
Keeping Health Hazards out of the Home
While it’s difficult, if downright impossible, to keep irritants from coming into the home from the outside, it is possible to control them. Make it a point to vacuum regularly and sweep up dust before it has time to settle. Always use damp rags when wiping up dust to minimize what gets into the air. Avoid the use of chemical cleaners if possible and use natural cleaners in their place. Don’t use scented candles and if there’s a smoker in the home, make sure they go outside.
Install Equipment to Help Filter the Air
A long-term option is to get a whole-home humidifier connected to the HVAC system. Keeping the humidity in the home consistent serves to trap and pull irritants out of the air. The result is fewer health hazards floating around in the home and you don’t have to work harder to reduce irritants.
Install filters designed to trap allergens and irritants. Standard filters do a good job of this, but you need something to go the extra distance. HEPA filters are available, but MERV filters have become the new standard for keeping the air free from irritants. If you can’t find a MERV rated filter, a HEPA filter still does a good job of keeping the air clean.
Avoid Products That Off-Gas Chemicals
Many household items such as furniture and fixtures off-gas volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) after they’ve been manufactured. You may be familiar with that “new” smell of furniture or a chemical scent that is given off by carpeting. It’s not easy to avoid because so many household products use VOCs at some point in their manufacture.
The smell wears off after a month, but the off-gassing can still continue without your being aware of it. There are certification systems in use that manufacturers use to denote that their product is low or no VOC, but these systems are not industry-wide. Your best defense against items that are off-gassing VOCs is to not bring them into the home right away. Ask the store where you purchase your items from if it’s possible to open the boxes to release the gasses before they’re delivered. Otherwise, leave them out in your garage until the smell dissipates.
These are some of the ways to protect your home from airborne health hazards and keep your family comfortable. While you’ll always be fighting this war, you can tip the scales in your favor by taking preventative action.
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