Is your home causing your health concerns?
(BPT) - (ARA) - When you get the sniffles - do you blame your allergies, or the air inside your house? Surprisingly, air pollution trapped inside your home could be the cause of many of your family's health concerns - especially if members suffer from asthma or allergies.
Poor indoor air quality is a health threat. Indoor air is one the top five environmental threats to the country, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And in the winter months, your family is probably spending a lot more time inside, breathing in the polluted air.
Indoor air pollutants come from many different sources. The combustion fuels you use - oil, gas, kerosene, coal and even wood - add chemicals to the air. So do tobacco products. Pets and carpeting can add dander and dust particles to the air. And even the cleaning products you use can build up. Newer homes are built to be more air tight, which helps to keep the heating bill lower in the winter months, but does nothing to freshen the air inside the house.
Minor health consequences from breathing poor quality indoor air include watery eyes, a scratchy throat and runny nose. But more serious consequences could show up after years of breathing in poor quality indoor air, and those include respiratory diseases, heart disease and even cancer, according to the EPA.
You can clean the air inside your home to help reduce the pollutants, dust and dander in several ways:
* Take a peek inside your air ducts. Use a flashlight and mirror, or a digital camera to see if the walls of the ducts are coated in dust bunnies and grit. That build up of dust signals you need to have your heating and cooling system cleaned. Your heating unit will continuously circulate any dusty and dirty air throughout your home, so that your family is always breathing it in. Hiring a National Air Duct Cleaners Association member to clean your HVAC system will help you keep the air circulating throughout your home free of dust, pollen and dander. NADCA members must carry general liability insurance and must have at least one certified air systems cleaning specialist on staff.
"Cleaning your ducts isn't something a do-it-yourselfer should try to tackle," says Bill Benito, board member of NADCA. "NADCA-recommended contractors will loosen contaminants with brushes and compressed air, then use negative pressure collection equipment to collect all the debris so that nothing is blown into your living areas." Visit www.nadca.com to find a NADCA member near you.
* Replace your furnace filter frequently, and use the highest efficiency filter recommended by the manufacturer of your heating and cooling system.
* Run bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans when needed, and make sure these units circulate to the outdoors, rather than blowing back into the house. If you have the opportunity, take the covers off the fans and clean off the fan blades to help remove additional particles from the air.
* When the temperatures warm up, open up your screened windows and doors to help circulate the air inside your house.
Nobody likes having a runny nose or scratchy throat, and if your family members are exhibiting these symptoms, you may need to review the air quality in your home. To learn more, visit www.nadca.com.