To protect yourself and your family, it's important to be educated about what causes illness in the home and what you can do about it. By maintaining optimal air quality and utilizing proper ventilation, you can help keep your home clean and healthy going forward.
A house with too much humidity is a breeding ground for a mold problem. Excessive moisture in the air can even warp your drywall, making it easier for mildew and mold to spread behind walls. A humidity monitor can give you an accurate reading of your home's humidity -- you want it to be between 30 and 50 percent. If you need to reduce moisture in the air, open windows on a dry day to help calibrate your home. Also, be sure to run air vents whenever you are using the bathroom and whenever there is a lot of cooking in the kitchen. You can also buy a dehumidifier, which can be helpful if you live in a particularly humid environment.
Volatile organic compounds or VOCs contain high levels of carbon that are harmful if left uncontrolled in an improperly ventilated area. Over time, exposure to VOCs can lead to kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage. VOCs can be found in air fresheners, perfumes, cleaning products, carpets, vinyl, sealants, adhesives, paints, varnishes, fuels and even the materials used to make your furniture.
To make sure your home is safe, always make sure there is proper ventilation in a room when using a product containing VOCs. If you want to add an air filter to a room where items that give off VOCs are held, be sure to look for one that uses an activated carbon filter, preferably formulated with magnesium dioxide and copper oxide that traps dangerous chemicals as well as odors.
Furthermore, you can also make sure you don't add VOCs to your home's air supply by looking for furnishings made with natural materials and switching to all natural cleaners. You can also add houseplants that purify the air and filter toxins naturally. Among the most popular air purifying plants are spider plants, golden pothos, Chinese evergreens and the bamboo palm.
Your heating and cooling system provides comfort for your family throughout the year. But if it's not properly maintained, it can make everyone very sick. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can leak into your home from certain appliances such as gas stoves and hot-water heaters. If you don't have one already, look into getting a carbon monoxide detector. Placing several throughout the home -- especially in areas near these appliances -- can save your family's lives.
If you move into a new house, always have the central air conditioning system and ductwork evaluated by a professional. If your home is too tightly sealed, it will trap dirty air in the home risking your family's health. A system that is over sealed can pull harmful Radon gas -- the number one cause of lung cancer -- inside through floor drains and foundation cracks. You can reverse the effects of a tightly sealed home by using natural ventilation with open windows when possible. You can also install an air-to-air heat exchange that provides mechanical ventilation. Finally, always use fan vents when bathing and cooking to pull humid and toxic air outside.
Many of the things we use everyday have the potential to make your family sick if used improperly. The key to keeping a healthy home is clean air and ventilation. Even the simple act of opening a window can prevent indoor air pollution.