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Preventing Indoor Air Pollution
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement


Several things contribute to indoor air pollution. Common irritants include smoke, dry cleaned clothes, household cleaners, and skin particles. Also, compounds found in carpeting, furniture, and upholstery and drapery fabric consistently emit gas or fumes. And lets us not forget about our microscopic friends the dust mites. All of these elements help to create a combination of debris and dust that put our lungs in danger.

Thankfully, there are ways to limit the amount of toxins, dust and debris that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis. All methods can be divided into three categories,

1. The elimination of the cause; controlling the amount of emissions.
2. Proper Ventilation
3. Air Cleaners

One of the easiest ways to control what you expose your lungs to, it to pay close attention to the household products that you use. Do your best to use products with the least amount of toxic chemicals, and make sure to use stronger chemicals with precaution. Other easy methods include removing footwear, routine cleaning, reducing dust collecting surfaces such as open shelves, and remembering to open windows for fresh air.

Furnace filters and electric air cleaners are another option, both of which will cost you some extra money. However, they are both worth the investment when you consider the well being of your health. Standard furnace filters are not designed to trap small particles that contribute to indoor air pollution. Newly designed filters are now available that actually reduce exposure to particles which can affect your health. Keep in mind, that the filters which cost the least produced very little clean air.

Electronic air cleaners reduce the health effects associated with the intake of small solid or liquid substances suspended in air, such as dust or light spray mists. They use an electric field to trap charged particles. Typically, they are expensive to purchase and install, and maintenance might be an issue as well. However, when you take into account the health effects associated with indoor air pollution, the investment is worth it. Health effects include eye and lung irritation and even more serious effects such as cancer and decreased lung function.
If money is a concern, portable units are available. However, they are not capable of cleaning the air of large areas. Generally, they are designed to function in the size of a single room, similar to a window air conditioner.

Last but not least, it is a great idea to bring plants into your home. Under the right circumstances, plants can clean an estimated 85% of indoor air pollution. Not only do plants absorb chemicals from the air, but they also balance the humidity and increase oxygen levels. Imagine that, an air cleaner that doesn't make noise, show up on your utility bill, and break down. Common plants used to reduce indoor air pollution include:

• Palms
• Mums and daisies
• Ferns
• English Ivy
• Peace lily
• Spider plants
• Dracaenas

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