What’s Your AQI?

by J on January 29, 2010

If you follow the weather during the warmer months of the year, you know the forecasters always let you know what the air quality index (AQI) reading is. It’s especially important for people with allergies and asthma because it has a direct affect on their health. Have you ever thought that there should be an air quality index for the air inside your house?

The truth is, the air quality inside many homes is poor; it can be even worse than the outdoor air in industrialized cities. Unfortunately, people are becoming less active, spending more and more time indoors.

What’s Causing the Problem?

Many factors are contributing to poor indoor air quality. One of them has to do with our improving technology. For example, since the technology has improved to make our homes more energy efficient, we now have draft-proof, airtight houses. While good for our heating bills, it’s not so good for our health because contaminants have less chance of escaping the home.

Our homes are also much more chemical-ridden than they were just a generation ago. Building materials, cleaning chemicals, synthetic carpets, pressed-wood furniture, insulation, petroleum-based glues and adhesives and plastic laminates are all now freely used in our homes—and they contribute to off-gassing of chemicals.

Add to that the old stand-bys of dust, dust mites, molds, pollens and pet dander, and we’re left asking, Is it any wonder our homes have the potential to make us sick?

What to Do?

We are not helpless when it comes to improving the indoor air quality of our homes.  Choose to purchase natural cleaning products and less aerosol cans.  Try to buy real wood furniture instead of pressed. Look into “greener” building materials. Be sure to dust and vacuum your home frequently and use air filters, especially if you have pets. An average-sized six-room home can collect up to 40 pounds of dust each year, so it makes sense to have an air duct cleaning service in to service your home periodically. If you have a gas stove or furnace, have them checked to be sure they are not leaking fumes.Also, when you buy new mattresses, let them air out for several hours before you put the bedding on them, preferably with an open window.

Being aware of the potential problems that may exist within your own four walls is important. Making wise choices about what you allow in those four walls can improve your air quality–and maybe even your health.

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