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    Healthy Air, Healthy Kids: Indoor Air Quality Tips for Parents

    The common wisdom held by many parents is that the air their children breathe indoors is filtered and conditioned, which makes it healthier. The outdoors are full of pollutants, allergens, smog, and more things that are inherently harmful. While there is some rational basis in those beliefs, the hard truth is that your home air quality could be worse than what’s in your backyard. For the sake of your family’s health, consider these tips about your indoor air, brought to you by Realtor Michelle Thomas.

    What Lurks in Your Air?

    It’s a simple question without a simple answer. The truth is there are plenty of things that can make your indoor air less breathable. What do we mean when we say indoor air pollution?

    • Allergens. This could be pollen, pet hair and dander, and even dust mites. In fact, over 20 million Americans have a dust mite allergy.
    • Mold and mildew. The presence of moisture breeds these pollutants, both of which can cause severe respiratory problems. 
    • Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and radon. The two latter gases can kill you in large quantities, but small amounts can lurk in your home without you really knowing.
    • Other chemicals, often called volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are a little less common but still an issue in many households. These include paints, solvents, acetone, formaldehyde, and the byproducts of burning charcoal and kerosene.

    Is Your Air Quality Causing Problems?

    Not every home has dangerously polluted air, so how do you know if you have a problem? For one, you should install detectors for stuff like carbon monoxide and radon. Beyond that, it’s vital to look for signs that poor air quality is affecting you and your family.  

    Around the house, look for signs of mold, mildew, and water where they shouldn’t be. This is a sign there could be bad stuff lurking in your air. In terms of physical symptoms, be on the lookout for red, itchy, irritated eyes, excessive mucus in the nose and throat, sneezing, sore throat, cough, fatigue, headache, and trouble breathing. 

    What You Can Do to Improve Indoor Air Quality

    Luckily, the negative health effects of poor indoor air will probably subside if you make an effort to clean it up. Use your AC when you can. While fresh air is good, too much unconditioned air can bring pollen and other allergens into your home. Your AC will help filter this as long as you keep the filters clean (replace every three months). In fact, all air filters in your home should be replaced on this schedule, including minor ones like the filters in your oven hood. You should also make sure all of your appliances are running efficiently and aren’t adding to poor air quality in your home. You can have them assessed by a local appliance repair specialist.

    It’s worth the money to invest in a quality air purifier, one that contains a HEPA filter (quality air purifiers retail for under $200). Meanwhile, using a dehumidifier during the warmer months will also help (mold thrives in humidity).

    Also, you may want to inspect windows for any signs of cracks, which could be lettering allergens into the home. This is especially troublesome if you suffer from allergies. If you need to fix your cracked window ASAP, get in touch with a professional window repair expert. You can find many pros on Angi, allowing you to easily search for the best contractor in your area.

    Finally, don’t skimp on your weekly cleaning. You can substantially improve your home’s air quality through regular vacuuming, dusting, and laundering of bedding, pillows, and curtains. If you have pets, you should clean more often and bathe/brush them at least once a week. 

    Our homes are supposed to be our safe zones, but if we don’t pay attention to our surroundings, we can turn them into someplace decidedly unsafe. The good news is that the steps you need to take to keep your air clean aren’t too difficult. Filters, purifiers, and dehumidifiers do a lot of the work for you. If you can keep up with a regular cleaning schedule, you’ll be doing what you need to do to keep your family happy and healthy. 

    Written by Suzie Wilson (suzie@happierhome.net)

    Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

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