Air quality is a big issue these days. Outdoor air isn’t as pristine as it was when our forebears were alive, and neither is indoor air. Due to the fact that we cannot control the chemicals outside, I’ll focus mainly on what we can do something about, and that’s indoor air.
That being said, I do want to mention a few things you can do for yourself outdoors. If you are a walker, jogger, runner, or biker, the air you breathe as you exercise can be considerably improved if you avoid major roads, as the fumes you are breathing in are counterproductive to health. Ideally, go exercise in a park, forest, or somewhere off the beaten path where the air is cleaner!
Around the home, consider using an electric mower and weed eater, and axing the lighter fluid for the grill. Use a charcoal chimney instead, which are easy to find at a hardware store and light easily using newspaper and a match. Your food will taste better, too, as it won’t be laced with lighter fluid.
If you are really bothered by allergies or fumes when outside, you can try a personal air purifier around your neck, and you might invest in a car air filter. On high pollen and ozone days, you might just want to stay inside.
Air inside our homes
If you’ve spent time reading about environmental issues, you know that many studies have indicated that the air quality inside our homes is vastly inferior even to the air outside. How can that be?
A bit of history
From a historical perspective, most homes used to be efficient “breathing machines.” Air would leak through the windows, under doors, and through the walls. There was a continuous flow of air throughout the entire building structure. Houses were also built out of natural building materials. Indoor air quality was pretty good then, even if you had to bundle up during the cold winter months.
After World War II, there was a big demand for new, relatively cheap housing. To meet this need, many corporations devised new, less expensive building materials incorporating various chemicals, such as formaldehyde, into their products. With this came an increased demand for tighter building envelopes in order to conserve energy and lower heating/cooling bills. This led to the development of double and triple paned glass, storm windows and doors, and gaskets around doors. Exterior walls also started to be insulated.
That’s good, right?
Yes and no. Having a tight house has saved on energy costs, but indoor air quality has suffered as a result. There is simply no escape route for all the chemicals that accumulate in our homes, and as a result we are constantly breathing in chemicals that we would be better off not breathing.
I live in that? What can I do about it?
I can’t tell you everything about indoor air quality today, but I’ll go into it in greater detail over many blog posts. I’ll also take a room-by-room tour in future blogs to help you clean up your home as best as possible. However, there are two important things you can do right now to ease the situation.
1. Open your windows for at least 10-20 minutes a day. Not just one window, but many – preferably in enough rooms to allow for full-house air circulation. If you have fans to blow around the air, that will help remove stagnant air and bring in fresh air.
2. Buy yourself a top-notch air filtration system. A whole house unit does the best job, but it’s pricey. An alternative is to purchase a portable unit. The smaller units can greatly alleviate the air quality concerns in your home, and can be moved if necessary. The best places to put them are in the areas you frequent the most; the family room and the bedrooms. Health Goods carries high quality Hepa filter models to choose from.
That’s it for today. See you on the next blog!