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Start the Year with Clean Air

Woman breathing clean air

Your home may invite all kinds of pollutants, such as dust, pollen, and mold, and these can compromise the quality of your indoor air. According to the EPA, the concentration of pollutants can be two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. Considering how we spend an average of 90% of our time inside, poor indoor air quality is not something to take lightly.

Below are just a few tips that can allow you to start the new year with cleaner indoor air. Some may require the help of a professional, while others are DIY projects.

1. Use Green Cleaning Products

We all like cleaning products that provide a fragrant smell, but there's one problem: Such products can contain harmful chemicals called volatile organic compounds. VOCs are most often found in:

• Aerosol sprays

• Disinfectants

• Detergent

• Paint strippers

• Dry cleaning chemicals

Exposure to VOCs, the EPA says, can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation; nausea; and loss of coordination. In severe cases, it can contribute to liver and kidney damage. Use plant-based cleaners to avoid this risk.

If you continue to buy products that emit VOCs, make sure there is plenty of ventilation while you're using them. The containers, once opened, will emit VOCs, so store these in a well-ventilated space.

2. Use HEPA-Filtered Vacuums

If you're vacuuming your floors regularly, you're already doing more than some other homeowners. Still, you should know that a vacuum cleaner can give you even better performance if fitted with a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and HEPA filters can trap within its fine mesh a host of pollutants, including pollen, mold, and cigarette smoke.

3. Have the Ductwork Cleaned

You may be surprised to hear that there's an organization called the National Air Duct Cleaners Association. It states that indoor contaminants can be re-circulated through your HVAC system an average of five to seven times a day, causing massive build-up over time. While replacing your air filters -- every 90 days for pleated filters and every 30 days for fiberglass filters -- is important, NADCA recommends duct cleaning for the best possible indoor air quality.

4. Prevent Condensation Build-Up

The reason for this step is simple: mold growth. Mold is a toxic fungus that grows in dark, damp places. Wherever there is condensation, temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees, and relative humidity levels of 60 percent or higher, then mold will abound. The CDC has a few mold prevention tips to keep in mind:

• Immediately take care of roof, window, and pipe leaks

• Ventilate the shower, laundry, and cooking areas when in use

• Try to keep humidity levels below 50%

You could also prevent moisture build-up in the attic and crawl space or basement by installing spray foam insulation. This will require a professional, who will first remove all the contaminants in that area before installing the insulation. The areas must be adequately ventilated, too.

5. Do Not Disturb Asbestos-Containing Materials

The use of asbestos, a cancer-causing mineral, may be restricted now, but it's not entirely banned. It continues to be used in roofing materials, for instance. If you own an older home, then there’s a good chance you can find asbestos in roof shingles, floor and ceiling tiles, and insulation.

However, these materials will not harm your indoor air quality as long as they are not disturbed. If you're about to remodel your home, then you'll want to call an asbestos expert before anything else.

Bottom line: DG Heating & Air Conditioning is San Jose’s indoor air quality specialist. To schedule an appointment, call (408) 669-3496.
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