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Having a Bad Air Day? Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Pollution: Irritating Gasses

Do you cook with a natural gas or propane stove? ”Get the gas jets cleaned and serviced annually by a technician who can adjust the metering so that the gas burns cleanly,” Calhoun says. This is important for all gas-run appliances.

“In the kitchen, the stove emits nitrogen dioxide, one of the most irritating gases, and when combined with sunlight, produces ozone,” says Schachter. “This gas is so irritating that at higher levels can cause wheezing in people who don't have asthma."

Simple solution? If you have a gas stove, keep the kitchen window open a bit or turn on the fan hood to avoid nitrogen dioxide buildup, he suggests.

Particles in the Air

Cleaning regularly is a good way to keep your indoor air irritant-free, right? Wrong! It can actually make things worse unless you choose your cleaning products wisely.

Some cleaning products, including those with chlorine and ammonia, contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some paints, shellacs, and floor polishes may also contain VOCs. The compounds then go into the air as gases.

You can cut down on VOCs by choosing products that say "low VOC" or "no VOC" or buying fragrance-free cleaners. Harold S. Nelson, MD, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver, advises considering liquids or pastes instead of sprays for cleaning because they disperse fewer particles into the air.

VOCs aren't the only particles affecting air quality. Mold spores that start off in a damp basement can float up into the rest of the house. "Areas of leakage and dampness should be addressed throughout the house,” Nelson says.

Cleaning Indoor Air: Pet Allergies

If you have pets that you love, but you also have pet allergies, there are some ways to improve the air you breathe. “Keep the pet outside or at the very least outside of your bedroom,” Calhoun says. “Just reducing the allergen burden in the bedroom will likely have some benefit because we spend eight hours in the bedroom a night.”

Bathing your pet regularly can also reduce allergen burden, according to Calhoun.

Better Air Quality Indoors: Evicting Dust Mites

There are the pets we love and invite into our homes and beds, and then there are those uninvited guests like house dust mites.

These creepy, crawly microscopic critters are the most common cause of allergies from house dust. They can be found where you sleep (your pillows and mattresses), where you relax (upholstered furniture), and where you walk (your carpeting). What’s more, they float into the air when you vacuum, walk on a carpet, or ruffle your bedding.

What can you do? Plenty!

Dust mites love humid air, so keep house humidity below 30 or 35 percent. “House dust mites don’t tolerate dryness well, so you don’t want to run a humidifier in the bedroom to encourage their growth if you are allergic,” Nelson says.

Next Article:

How do you stay warm at home during the winter months?