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Indoor Air Quality

Here are some little known facts about the air inside many homes:
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollutant levels may be two to five times higher than the pollutant levels outdoors.
  • Indoor air pollution is one of the top environmental concerns in the country.
  • Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors.
  • Indoor air pollutants such as tobacco smoke, pollen, mold, dust and animal dander can create asthmatic and allergic reactions.
What contributes to poor indoor air quality?
Today's homes are built energy efficient to "hold" air inside - avoiding heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Of course, what's better for your energy bills isn't necessarily better for indoor air quality. This type of construction doesn't allow the home to breathe. Opening a window isn't always the answer - that's when an air cleaner can help, especially if someone in your home suffers from allergies.

Sources of air pollution:
Tobacco smoke:
Tobacco smoke is one of the smallest allergens, and for years the EPA has reported the link between second-hand smoke and health effects.

Pollen comes from trees, flowers and grass, and even opening a door can allow millions of these particles into a home. Some people are particularly sensitive to the presence of certain pollen particles.

Animal dander:
People who are allergic to cats and dogs are actually allergic to the dander flakes their pets shed. Dander can remain in a home long after the presence of the host animal.

Mold and mildew:
Typically found in the shower, kitchen or basement, these sneaky plant spores also grow any place that's warm and humid.

Clean and Vacuum Your Way to a Healthy Home
Home sweet home. It's where our heart is, and where we spend most of our time. Naturally, we want it to be free from unhealthy influences.

As we look increasingly to our homes as havens from a stressful world, the issue of indoor air quality has never been more critical. Today's homes boast tight construction, and that's appealing from the standpoint of warmth as well as energy conservation. But they also can be breeding grounds for unhealthy entities that remain trapped inside - bacteria, dirt, mold, dust mites, pollens and other allergens. Most are so small,they can't be seen with the naked eye.

According to health experts, these indoor pollutants can manifest themselves in symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, headaches, tiredness, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. In fact, 40 to 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, says the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. An estimated 17.3 million suffer from asthma.

Is it possible to cure a "sick" home?
Medical experts say that keeping a clean home can make a significant difference. Thorough and regular vacuuming is an important part of that regimen according to such credible authorities as the American Lung Association, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Today's vacuum cleaners have been designed with a focus on filtration technology to address Indoor Air Quality issues. Not only are they efficient at picking up dirt from the floor, but their allergen filtration or HEPA filtration systems are designed to retain minute particles so that they don't get back out into the air. Regular vacuuming can also help control animal dander, spiders, spider egg sacs and webs.

Deep cleaning or extracting goes hand-in hand with vacuuming. The use of specially formulated liquid cleaning solutions for extractors can help loosen and remove allergens that cling to carpet fibers.

These vacuuming tips can contribute to the thorough cleaning that makes a Healthier home:

  • Vacuum carpet and rugs at least once a week.
  • Vacuum twice a week in bedrooms and high-traffic areas.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, drapes and mattresses on a regular basis
  • Vacuum more frequently if you have pets.

Other tips, to be used in tandem with vacuum cleaning:

  • Wash bedding in hot water - at least 130 degrees F
  • Encase bedding in special allergen-control covers
  • Wash stuffed animals
  • Control moisture in the home to prevent mold spores by maintaining relative humidity below 55 percent through appropriate use of heating, air conditioning and a dehumidifier.
  • Clean appropriate hard surfaces with a damp cloth
  • Keep windows closed if you wish to keep allergens from the outside from entering.
  • Control cockroaches; their feces are an allergen

Source: Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, 2006

Air Quality in U.S.
Article 1: Indoor Air Quality
Article 2: Airing the Truth about Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution
Article 3: Air Pollution in Los Angeles County
Article 4: Air Quality in Large Buildings
Article 5: Determining the quality of indoor air
Article 6: Air Pollution by AFFA
Article 7: Outdoor Air Pollution Fact Sheet
Article 8: The Air Quality Index
Article 9: Particle Pollution Fact Sheet

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