Contrary to popular belief, the air inside your home can actually be more polluted than the air outside and it is not because the pollutants are coming in from outside. In fact, many of the objects and furnishings in your home affect the air quality. Items such as paints, carpets, furniture, cleaners, and your home’s structure all add chemicals to the air. One of the biggest pollutants is formaldehyde, which comes from new furniture and paints. If left unchecked, these pollutants can possibly reach levels that are harmful to your health. This poses threats to sensitive populations such as children and the elderly by increasing their chances of respiratory ailments. Check out the Center for Disease Control’s fact sheet on indoor air quality.
A great way to improve your air quality is through ventilation. Allowing outside air into your home can help reduce pollutants to acceptable levels. It is important to remember not to over ventilate because if the relative humidity in your home reaches 70% or higher, this can lead to the growth of mold. Ideally your home’s humidity should be between 45% and 60%. Closets and other places of low air-flow are at highest risk for mold, so keep an eye on these areas when you choose to use natural ventilation. The best times of the year to ventilate are cooler, less humid months from late fall into early spring.
Some other good tips include regularly changing your air filters, and using cleaning supplies that are non-toxic and do not off gas. Some household items that can be used as cleaners include hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. These perform best in rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens.
If you are also on a budget, check out this fact sheet on how to make homemade cleaners that will not break the bank.
Written by Trevor Ackerman, UF/IFAS Summer Intern