It’s important to promote clean air in your Baltimore area home, especially if you or anyone in your family has asthma and allergies. The best way to ensure optimal air quality is to become familiar with the most prominent pollutants in each area. Here’s a room-by-room guide to help you gain control of indoor air quality in your home.
Living room and bedroom
These areas are full of soft, comfortable textiles and pollutants that detract from optimal air quality. Concerns in the living room and bedroom include:
- Pet hair and dander: Animals trigger allergies and asthma attacks all around the home, but the fabrics in the living room and bedroom make pets more of a hazard there. Don’t allow pets in bedrooms of those with allergies, and vacuum, dust and sweep often to keep pet hair under control.
- Dust: Dust mites live just about everywhere, including in upholstered furniture, pillows, blankets, carpet and stuffed animals. Cover pillows and mattresses with hypoallergenic covers, wash bedding weekly in hot water, and dust and vacuum often.
- Secondhand smoke: Tobacco smoke is dangerous to everyone, but children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to its dangerous effects. Don’t smoke inside, to protect your family from secondhand smoke.
- Carbon monoxide: Fireplaces are a potential source of this harmful gas. Make sure the flue damper is open and operating correctly before using the fireplace.
This is one of the wettest, most polluted areas of your home. The main pollutant in the bathroom is mold. This contaminant can ruin your efforts to create optimal air quality unless you’re careful. To prevent your bathroom from harboring mold growth, run the exhaust fan when you shower, and wipe down all wet surfaces after you bathe or take a shower.
Cooking, food storage and food preparation are cause for concern in the kitchen. Here’s why:
- Pesticides: Chemicals used to attack pest infestations are often used in the kitchen where food is stored. To help prevent pests without chemicals, wipe up spills promptly, and keep food in airtight containers. If you must use pesticides, ventilate the kitchen during and after use, and follow the instructions closely to limit your exposure.
- Volatile organic compounds: Household cleaners commonly kept beneath the kitchen sink release VOCs when used and even while being stored. Shop for products with low to no VOC content. If you must buy standard cleaners, store them away from children and outside the home, such as in a detached garage or shed.
- Carbon monoxide: The kitchen is another room where you may be exposed to CO if you have a gas stove. Vent the kitchen while using the stove whenever possible. Keep the stove maintained and use it properly to reduce exposure to carbon monoxide.
The basement is a major source of indoor air pollution. Major examples include:
- Radon: This naturally occurring gas enters the home through cracks in walls and floors that come in contact with the ground. Radon is a concern because it’s radioactive. Exposure to radon is the No 1 cause of lung cancer among people who don’t smoke. It’s easy and inexpensive to have your home tested, a process that gives you peace of mind as you aim for optimal air quality.
- Mold: Dank, dark basements provide the perfect place for mold to grow and thrive. A dehumidifier is useful for keeping the basement at less than 60 percent relative humidity. If the basement ever floods, it’s important to dry out water-logged areas within 24 to 48 hours to avoid mold growth.
- Carbon monoxide: In many Maryland homes, water heaters and furnaces are located in the basement. Carbon monoxide could ruin the optimal air quality in your home unless these appliances are installed properly, used correctly and maintained regularly. Be sure to install CO detectors in the basement and other living areas to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Volatile organic compounds: It’s likely that you store paint, resin, paint thinner and other chemicals out of sight in the basement. Store these products according to manufacturer directions, preferably outside the living space. Then, when using them inside, make sure you ventilate the space. Low- and no-VOC products reduce your exposure.
Despite the threats to optimal air quality, it’s still possible to enjoy clean indoor air with the above advice. For more information about overcoming indoor air pollution, please contact us at Griffith Energy Services. We dispatch vehicles from 12 locations to serve residents in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware and Washington D.C.
Written by Kevin Spain