5 Ways to Clean the Air in Your House

| 5/25/2017 12:00:00 AM

Tags: Jennifer Tuohy, Home Depot, air filters,

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Houseplants like this dracaena help keep the air in your home clean by filtering out toxins.

Indoor air pollution is one of modern society’s deadliest silent killers. Responsible for premature deaths from stroke, ischemic heart disease, COPD, acute lower respiratory infections in children and lung cancer, indoor air pollution was linked to 4.3 million deaths in households cooking over coal, wood and biomass stoves in 2012, according to the World Health Organization

While few of us still use these type of unfiltered cooking methods in our homes today, the risks of poor indoor air quality are real, especially as more and more chemicals, in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are introduced into our homes through furniture, cleaning products, paints, building materials and other manufactured products. VOCs are linked to eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination and nausea, and damage to the liver, kidney and the central nervous system. Some are known to cause cancer in humans. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates concentrations of VOCs are generally two to five times higher indoors (and sometimes up to 10 times) than outdoors.

So, what can you do about it? Other than remove offending items, which can be difficult and in some cases impossible to do, there are some simple steps you can take to help make the air quality in your home cleaner. Here are five things you can do to help combat indoor air pollution:

Change Your Air Filters

Most homes have some type of HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and these actually do a lot of the work for you, typically filtering 100% of the air in your home twice each hour (while running). A good air filter will capture large particles like household dust, lint, dust mites, pollen and pet dander, small particles like bacteria and mold spores, as well as smoke, smog and microscopic allergens. They can also filter out particles that can carry viruses and odors. Most manufacturers recommend you change your filters every three months. There is certainly no harm in doing it more often, though, and if you have a full household—children, pets, lots of people coming in and out—inspect the filters every month or two and replace them if they look full.

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Another option that is especially useful when windows can't be opened (dead of winter and peak of summer) is a fresh air recirculation system that incorporates a heat exchanger. Installation and operation is described here: https://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/energy-recovery-ventilator-zmaz09djzraw

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