Indoor Air Quality Is Essential for Good Health

One of the ways air inside your home becomes polluted is by outdoor air pollution seeping in.

The worse the air quality is outside, the worse it will probably be within your home.

And it’s tough for that unhealthy air to move back outside again. Especially during colder months when windows and doors stay closed more often.

But did you know there are other things that negatively affect the air you breathe inside your home?

National Indoor Air Quality Month

The Environmental Protection Agency tells us Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors.

That’s especially true this time of year. Maybe that’s why February was selected as National Indoor Air Quality Month.

Today we’re going to look at some of the dirtiest places in our homes. A couple of them might surprise you.

And I’m going to tell you about the findings from a recent study of indoor air. It was conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Kitchen

Let’s start off with the kitchen. Thanks to a number of appliances, food preparation and foot traffic, this is often a house’s dirtiest room.

Bacteria has a field day in kitchens. Mainly due to factors that help it grow. Such as heat, moisture, raw meat, and unwashed fruits and vegetables.

Not to mention germs from backpacks, purses, briefcases, gym bags and other items that land on kitchen tables.

But the areas that collect most of the bacteria and germs are refrigerators and countertops. Plus sinks, appliances, utensils and cabinet handles.

The Bathroom

This one won’t surprise anyone. Bathrooms are havens for bacteria. Again, heat and moisture are the main culprits.

And this bacteria can be on just about anything. Including faucets and faucet handles. As well as sinks, bathtubs, shower curtains and floor mats.

Do I even have to mention the toilet? And when was the last time any of us cleaned a bathroom doorknob or light switch?

We ought to be giving our bathrooms a minimum of one thorough cleaning per week. Plus daily touchups.

The Bedroom

Your bedroom probably feels like a clean place to you. And hopefully, it is. But only if you wash your sheets and blankets regularly.

One study revealed that after one week, bed sheets harbor more bacteria than a bathroom doorknob.

Are you sleeping properly? If not, it’s possible allergens could be the problem. In your sheets, pillowcases, mattress, box spring and curtains.

We can’t see dust mites, but we feed them with our dead skin cells. And if fungus and bacteria are in our bedrooms, they can cause skin irritations and infections.

The Living Room and Den

This is another area that might not seem like a hangout for bacteria. But we often spread germs by touching things others touch.

And there are plenty of those things in family rooms and dens. Such as light switches, TV remotes, game controllers, keyboards, phones, headphones, ear buds and much more.

Allergens and bacteria can also lurk on furniture in these rooms. And we probably utilize furniture in these rooms more than anywhere else in the home.

Our pets like to hang out with us in these rooms. So, we can add pet hair and dander to the equation.

Don’t Forget Vents

The common denominator in these rooms is air vents. Once they get dirty and dusty, look out. They need to be cleaned frequently, but it’s something many people forget about.

There are plenty of other items collecting bacteria and allergens that pollute the air in our homes.

They include pet food and water bowls, as well as their toys. Plus wallets, keys and fobs.

Marina Vance is an environmental engineer at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She said, “Activities can be a main driver of air quality.”

She and other researchers studied how everyday activities determine which chemicals find their way into indoor air.

This Testing Ground Really Cooks

They used a model home at the University of Texas-Austin. It measures air quality and how much outdoor air enters the house.

They cooked food that would be typical for a Thanksgiving gathering. Including turkey, side dishes and pies.

Vance said tiny bits of pollution called particulate matter were present. As they would be in any kitchen.

And air circulation aided by a furnace, air conditioner, fan or stove causes particulates to move about the house.

When Cleaning Makes It Worse

Cooking is just one activity that can affect indoor air quality. Vance’s group also spent several days cleaning with typical household products.

Many home products contain volatile organic compounds. They become gases at room temperature.

They react with other chemicals on surfaces and in the air. And that can create new harmful chemicals.

Furniture and flooring can release gases into the air that are harmful to those breathing them in.

Fighting the Enemy

What’s so bad about air pollution particulates and gases we can’t see? In large enough doses, they can cause breathing problems and heart issues. And can mess with brain functions.

Suggestions for limiting these effects are frequent hand washing and utilizing kitchen exhaust fans.

Assuming there’s not a great deal of air pollution in your area, keeping your home as ventilated as possible can help.

But nothing does a better job of keeping your home’s air fresh and healthy than a reliable air purifier. Take a look at our top recommendation, right here.

The quality of your home’s air has a direct effect on your well-being. But by taking some basic steps to purify your air, you’ll make sure your home and the people in it are happy and healthy for years to come.

About Jeff Reagan, Editor, Jeff Reagan's Daily Health Newsletter for Conservatives

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