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The air in your home


Lately, I see more and more articles written by reputable companies
that show that your indoor air quality is now a greater hazard to
your health than outdoor air pollution. Some of these hazards can be
related to exposure from toxins, contagions and even radiation. The
health effects from these hazards can range from mild fatigue to severe
respiratory distress and death. There is no one solution to all of these
hazards (at least not a cost effective one) to eliminate all indoor air
pollution, but by taking action on some or all of the following steps will
set you on the right path to a healthier home.

Step 1: What I’ve seen happening and even more so with new
construction homes they are tighter and more energy efficient. This is also
true about homes that are being remodeled. These new homes and
additions are built so tight that unlike an older home, they do a great
job of containing the off-gassing of new paints, construction materials,
cabinetry, and new carpets.
One solution is what’s referred to as Heat Recovery Ventilators or
Energy Recovery Ventilators (HRV and ERV). These systems are
designed to remove stale or polluted air in the home, exhaust it to the
outside and then bring in fresh air.

Step 2: Knowing what’s in the air you breathe. Many homes in the
Portland metro area have issues with Radon which can be leading cause
of lung cancer. Radon rises up from the ground under your home and
this radioactive gas can infiltrate your home very easily.
Once again, the solution here can be accurately identified with an
inexpensive testing kit. You can also get a more comprehensive
assessment using a qualified professional.

Step 3: The reduction of Indoor Chemical Use. Household cleaners,
pesticides and even store bought air fresheners can be a cause of all
types of irritations and headaches. One must pay very close attention to
the labels on household products. If possible, try switching to natural
products that contain fewer toxic chemicals. Something most people
don’t think about is recently dry-cleaned clothes, which can emit a number                          of harmful chemicals.

Step 4: The use of more sophisticated furnace filters. Traditional filters
are only designed to keep larger particles like hair and dust bunnies
from damaging the furnace fan blower and nothing else. New designs in
furnace filtration are now capable of 95% efficiency down to a 5 micron
size particle or better (the average human hair is 100 microns thick).
There are also filtration systems that are designed to purify the air and
eliminate anything of a chemical nature from the air you breathe.

Step 5: Reducing indoor air pollution naturally with houseplants.
This is by far the easiest, least costly and a visually appealing solution.
Plants can do a great job of removing toxins from the home. One of the
nice things about this idea is even though they are effective in reducing
indoor air pollution, they don’t look out of place or create any noise.
Some plants do work harder than others. A few that have been shown
to work really well are: Boston fern, spider plant, English ivy, areca
palm and peace lily. I suggest 2 plants per one hundred square feet as a
good rule of thumb.

John Rodate