Is Your Air Unhealthy?
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know how irritating pollen can be, but it’s not the only threat lurking in the air. Smog, ozone, and other pollutants all affect the quality of the air you breathe year-round, and unfortunately, make allergy and sinus symptoms even worse.
You breathe in an estimated 2,000 gallons of air each day. With air pollution on the rise, that means you’re also taking in pollutants from vehicles and airplanes, factories, and other sources that can be harmful to your health. Outside air isn’t the only problem. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air in your home is up to five times dirtier than outdoor air. That’s because stoves and fireplaces, cleaning supplies, and off-gassing from new furniture and carpeting can contaminate your indoor environment.
For those with respiratory allergies, breathing in polluted air can increase the severity of existing symptoms. Much like allergens, airborne contaminants can irritate already sensitive nasal passages and trigger congestion and sneezing.
How to Make Your Home Healthier
More time at home means more exposure to indoor pollutants, as well as common allergens like dust mites, mold, and pet dander. While it’s not possible to eliminate these, there are steps you can take toward improving the air quality in your home.
Keep your home tidy and clean. Vacuum regularly and use a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces, which will prevent dust from kicking up. Frequent washing of curtains and bed linens can also get rid of dust mites.
Be careful of commercial household cleaners. These products often have heavy fragrances and harsh chemicals that can irritate the nose, eyes, and lungs. When doing housework, open a window for ventilation, or consider switching to natural cleaning ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda.
Gas ovens and stoves release smoke and fumes. You should always use an exhaust fan, range hood, or open a window while cooking to reduce exposure. An air purifier can also help filter and sanitize the air, as well as cut down on kitchen odors.
Finally, be mindful of what you bring into your home. Harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are easily released into the air and can be a big problem during home renovations or redecorating. Now, there is a wide range of low- and no-VOC products for paints, stains, adhesives, and other home building supplies you can choose. When working on home projects, always wear a mask or respirator and ensure proper ventilation.
For more allergy tips, check out this post on homeopathic solutions for spring allergies, plus here’s help for how to tell the difference between cold and allergy symptoms.