Indoor air quality: 4 ideas to drop home pollution levels

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans spend at least 90 percent of their time indoors. Pollution levels inside the home are often two to five times higher than outside. Here are some tips to help keep your lungs healthy and wheeze-free.

Don't bite the dust. To decrease the amount of allergens, bacteria and mold spores in your home, be sure to regularly change the filter on your HVAC system. Unless you prefer pet dander, dust mites and penicillin on your pizza.

Think like a rocket scientist. According to research conducted by NASA, certain plants such as spider plants, bamboo palms and mums actually consume toxins like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. Just don't buy a man-eating alien plant from the "Little Shop of Horrors."

Clean up your act. The smell of ammonia, bleach and pine may make you feel like your floor is spic-and-span. But to avoid the potentially toxic fumes and fragrances, use diluted dishwashing detergent for a floor you can truly eat off of.

Fill your cracks. According to the American Lung Association, dampness alone — not just mold — brings higher risks of coughing and asthma-like symptoms. So caulk it up before you cough it up.


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Comments

Be careful with the air filters. We used some expensive HEPA filters because they get 99% of allergens. You could hear the filter sucked up when the a/c turned on. Technician said these were actually making the a/c work harder to get air through them.

Also, make sure the contractor knows he will pay for any paint damage around the ceiling vents. Vents always stick to the latex paint and if the contractor does not cut around the vent, then paint stuck to the vent will peel off the ceiling. It's a pain to fix. Pull the vents yourself if need be.

Would be nice to have some specifics... "Regularly change the filter" - how often? "plants...consume toxins" - how many are needed to be effective? 1 per room?/2?/3?/a greenhouse worth?

I agree changing your filter is a great way to keep dust and utility costs down. Filters4Life.com can help.

I have a Hoover FloorMate which I ADORE for keeping my ceramic tile and hardwood floors clean. It gets the floors very clean, you never have to schlep around buckets of dirty water to slop over on your floors, and you don't just spread dirty water from the bucket over your floor. It sucks up the water as soon as it's used and dirty into a separate reservoir. And no, LOL, I don't work for Hoover!

I have a Hoover FloorMate which I ADORE for keeping my ceramic tile and hardwood floors clean. It gets the floors very clean, you never have to schlep around buckets of dirty water to slop over on your floors, and you don't just spread dirty water from the bucket over your floor. It sucks up the water as soon as it's used and dirty into a separate reservoir. And no, LOL, I don't work for Hoover!

This is all true. Some good air filters really help like Oreck. Dusting and vacuuming are key to keeping things cleaner. We use Dawn VERY diluted on our tile floors. You give great advise. Keep it up.

Helpful. Thanks

Does anyone have recommendations on good stand-alone air cleaners?

Beth Ann, a HEPA filter does not make the system work harder, because it's not as porous as less effective filters, the system will run a little longer, but will not "work harder". Yes it will be harder to pull the filter out if the fan is running, but the fan is going to run the same speed regardless of what filter you have. I don't know why ac technicians don't understand this. Even with systems designed for a HEPA filter, as mine is (somewhat larger intake ducts) they still give me this story.

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