Household Pollutants And How To Clean It Up

Household Pollutants And How To Clean It Up

linked to cancer and liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage.

Some of the most common VOC sources follow:

  • Caulks

  • Adhesives

  • Carpeting

  • Fabric materials and furnishings

  • Air fresheners

  • Perfumes and shampoos


To purge these indoor air pollutants:

  • When buying furniture or rugs, try to snag a floor sample that already has emitted gasses. If you buy, say, a new couch, let it off-gas outside for a few hours if possible until that “new couch smell” has faded somewhat.

  • Run your HVAC system fan to keep fresh air circulating and reduce the concentration of VOCs in your home.

  • Store laundry products and cleaning agents in a well-ventilated area or in the garage.

  • Instead of spraying air fresheners, which are merely nice-smelling VOCs, remove the source of the stink and open windows to dilute the smell.



Cooking and showering

Every time you fry up breakfast or take a shower, there’s a chance you’re creating pollutants that can damage your health.

“Cooking is the single most polluting thing that people do in their homes,” Sherman says. “That’s the activity that produces the most contaminants.”

High-temperature cooking produces acrolein, a toxin that irritates skin, eyes, and nasal passages (and was briefly a tear gas candidate in World War I). Breathe enough acrolein (though nobody knows how much), and you increase your risk of lung cancer.

“If you’re just boiling water on an induction range, that’s a low-polluting event,” Sherman says. “If you’re wok-frying with boiling oil on a gas range, that’s a pretty high-polluting event. We need more research to give the numbers. We’re not all dropping dead from this, but it is causing harm.”

Other forms of everyday harm include bathing, which adds moisture to the air that fosters mold and mildew.

To purge these indoor air pollutants:

  • Make sure your range hood vents to the outside, and run it whenever you cook, especially when using hot oil.

  • After showering, run the bathroom fan and keep the shower door open to prevent mold from growing.



Cars, chemical plants, and outdoor sources

It’s a dirty world out there, and when outside pollution particles enter your home, you can be in big trouble. Where you live—downwind from a chemical factory or upwind from a freeway—determines what type and how much of a particular pollutant enters your home through doors, windows, vents, and even cracks in your foundation.

Some natural pollutants, like tree pollen, can provoke immediate reactions like sneezing and runny noses. But it’s the extra-fine pollution particles produced by any combustion process that slowly, steadily penetrate your lungs and “do the most long-term damage,” Sherman says.

To purge these indoor air pollutants:

  • If you live near a combustion source, like a highway or factory, make sure the seals and caulking around doors and windows are in good shape.

  • Upgrade your furnace filters to trap particles hazardous to your health. They’re MERVE (minimum efficiency reporting value) rated from 1 to 16; Sherman says to buy at least a MERVE 12 and change it once a month.

Peggy ONeill Headshot
Phone: 561-827-6672
Dated: September 29th 2016
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