AT HOME MAGAZINE

How can I clean the air in my home?

Ridding your home of indoor pollutants like mold and tobacco smoke will create a healthier living space. (Dreamstime/TNS
Ridding your home of indoor pollutants like mold and tobacco smoke will create a healthier living space. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Whether you live in an expansive estate or a cozy cottage, there are proactive ways to ensure the air in your home stays healthy year-round. Here’s a look at how to recognize and address common indoor air pollutants.

Tackle mold head-on

A leaky window, a drip beneath the sink or a humid climate can all trigger a mold problem in your house, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s common for people to have an allergic reaction to mold, and it can also harm your pets. If you want clean air, you’ll need a pro’s help to clear out the mold — and fix the water problems — so the harmful fungus can’t come back.

Install a carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can poison the air in your home. Because it’s deadly in high concentrations, it’s important to install a carbon monoxide detector — particularly if you have gas-powered appliances. If you already have one, test it regularly to make sure it’s in good working order. If the alarm sounds, it means improper ventilation or a leak has created a build-up of carbon monoxide in your house. Remove people and pets from your property immediately, then call local authorities for next steps.

Test for radon gas

Radon gas is another toxic gas commonly found in the home. Radon is part of the Earth’s crust, and it leaks into our homes from soil, rocks and water. One in 15 homes has detectable levels of radon in it, according to the American Lung Association, and radon is a leading cause of lung cancer. If you aren’t sure about the levels in your house, you can buy a testing kit or detection system. If you find radon in the air, the EPA recommends calling a radon mitigation pro to solve the problem.

Avoid smoking inside

When someone smokes a tobacco product inside your house, they release thousands of cancer-causing chemicals into the air, according to the EPA. Secondhand smoke is able to move between rooms and floors, and it makes the air unsafe to breathe for everyone in your home — not just the smoker. The EPA notes that ventilation can help a little with clearing things out, but turning on a fan or opening a door doesn’t eliminate secondhand smoke from inside your house. For fresh air inside, keep tobacco products outside.

Open doors and windows

It’s important to let fresh air into your house on a regular basis to keep the air quality up, according to the EPA. Stop pollutant build-ups before they start by cranking open a window or propping the door open for a few minutes a day. This can help lower levels of moisture, gas, dust and foul odors in your house. If you live in an area with climate-related air issues, like smog or smoke from wildfires, talk to your local health department about how to make sure the air in your home is clean. If you’re concerned and need a hand with cleaning the air in your home, a local air quality tester can help.

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