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Cleaning Up Air Pollution in Your Home

You will eat two to three pounds of food and drink one to three quarts of water today.  But you will breathe 1500 quarts of air .  A little bit of air pollution may have a big effect on health.

The EPA studied life span in a number of cities as related to the amount of fine dirt particles in the air.  Results indicated significantly shortened life spans in cities with dirtier air.  Surprisingly, EPA studies also show that home air is often 6 to 10 times more polluted than outdoor city air.

Home air is contaminated by organic and inorganic particles and toxic gases.

Organic particles can be mold and mildew spores, dust mite parts and feces, animal dander, fabric dust and tobacco smoke.

Inorganic particles include very fine soluble and insoluble dusts generated by industrial processes which are carried everywhere by the wind and find their way into homes.

Toxic gases include leaking natural gas and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by man-made and natural sources.  Particle board, new furniture, carpet pad,  and new permanent press clothing release formaldehyde, a potent allergy sensitizer and known carcinogen.

People most at risk from indoor air pollution are newborns, young children, elderly, heart patients and those with bronchitis, asthma, and allergies.

To eliminate as many pollutant sources as possible from your indoor environment consider the following helpful hints:

1. Vinyl flooring, shower curtains and water bed bladders release thalates gases. (Thalate oils are used to make these PVC products flexible.)

2. Chemical air fresheners including plug-ins are neurotoxins.  Studies show exposed mice exhibit nerve damage and even death.

3. Mold and mildew (fungus) also produce detrimental VOCs as by-products of  living.  Therefore, heavy fungal contamination in or below living areas is to be avoided.

4. Air out dry cleaning in the garage.

5. Read labels on cleaning products.  If it says “Use in well ventilated room” it means that breathing the vapors can be unhealthy.  Look for alternate products at your health food store or contact Gaiam 877-989-6321.

6. If your garage is below an occupied area, leave the door open until the car engine cools off or leave the car out until it cools off.  Get oil and gas leaks fixed.

7. Store gasoline cans and equipment with gas engines in a area separated from the house.

8. New permanent press clothes can be soaked in the washer with two cups of powdered milk for several hours then rinsed and washed normally.

9. During times of high humidity, indoor conditions become ripe for growth of fungi (mold, mildew) and dust mites.  Mold and mildew growth accelerates above 70% RH. Mold and mildew are normally microscopic. When you can see them you have an advanced infestation.  Dust mites live best above 50% relative humidity.  Suggestions to prevent fungal problems:

a) Move furniture away from wall to allow air to circulate behind.

b) Keep closet doors open to allow air circulation around the clothes.

c) Make sure closet is uncluttered enough to allow air to circulate.

d) Place a low wattage bulb in closet. Keep bulb away from clothing and always on.  Most fungi don’t like light.

f) Treat infected areas with one cup bleach to one gallon of water. Wear rubber gloves and eye protection. For dust mites wash bedding and vacuum the mattress and carpeting often.

10. Water leaking into the house from outside or plumbing leaks can have very serious health consequences.  Wet areas must be dried within 24 hours or rapid fungal growth creates masses of spores and hydrocarbon gases.  Make sure your insurance company pays for a proper clean up by a qualified remediator.

11. Air filters that remove fine particles and/or gases are available as room filters or as whole house filters.  (A whole house filter attaches to the central heating and air conditioning system.)

The best type of air filter is the true HEPA (high efficiency particulate arrestor) which removes 99.97% of particles over 0.3 millionths of an inch in diameter. If the filter is not a true HEPA it does not remove the finer and more harmful particles which makeup 92% of the dust in the air.  Standard furnace filters are useless in protecting you from fine particles.  When buying, check the price of replacement filters and the change interval against the original cost of the equipment.

12. Standard vacuum cleaners return 70% of the dirt sucked up right back into the air. Vacuums with a true HEPA filter are now made by several manufacturers.

Dirty air stresses the body and takes energy away from rejuvenation. This  is particularly true during sleep time when your body is repairing itself to come back to fight the ravages of another day in this polluted world. Clean air is great health insurance.!

Lawrence Gust
Lawrence J. Gust Consulting
Indoor Environmental Health Factors Assessments
Mold, Mildew, Chemicals, Water, Electromagnetic Fields
Assessment, and Mitigation

(805) 644-2008

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