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Indoor Air Quality

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Outdoor pollution and its impact on air quality is a well-known issue.

However, less attention is paid to the air we breathe inside our homes, which can have pollution levels two to five times higher than outdoors.

Indoor air quality has a significant impact on overall health, so it is important to learn more about it and take simple steps to improve it at home. Indoor air pollution is caused by a variety of sources such as cigarette smoke, particulate matter, mould and chemicals.

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Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

One of the more common chemicals is Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can cause eye, throat, and lung irritation, particularly in individuals with respiratory problems.

VOCs are emitted or "off-gassed" at room temperature from many types of products including paints, glues, carpets, air fresheners and furnishings. For example, items made from particle board contain VOCs, because they are typically held together with formaldehyde-containing glue.

There are a number of easy ways to reduce VOCs in a new home or when renovating. First, choose low or no VOC interior paint. Note that most of the VOCs in paint are in the colouring, so be sure to check VOC levels after tinting. Second, choose low VOC flooring, such as linoleum or Eco Foam carpet cushioning.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) can be toxic in large quantities, so it can seriously impact your home's indoor air quality. CO is a gas that forms when you burn fuels such as propane, natural gas, gasoline, oil, coal and wood. It is also found in second-hand smoke.

To avoid high levels of CO in your home there are a few simple steps you can take. First, be aware that if your heating system, water heater or any other fuel-burning appliance is not installed properly or breaks down, it can release CO into the air. Be sure to keep appliances well maintained and have them inspected by a qualified technician on an annual basis.

Second, install a carbon monoxide detector and do not forget to change the batteries regularly. Finally, never idle a car in the garage (if it is attached to the house), use a barbeque inside, or burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented, since these actions can elevate CO levels in your home.

Ventilation & Air Cleaning

Proper ventilation is another key factor in maintaining good indoor air quality. To ventilate your home, open windows throughout the year and ensure you have well-functioning exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchen that vent to the outside.

Ventilation is especially important during renovations to reduce the indoor pollution that can be released from new carpets, flooring, furnishings, paints and glues.

In addition to proper ventilation, air cleaning devices are also useful. Consider purchasing an air purifier or a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) furnace filter, which can reduce VOCs , mould and dust mites inside your home. A dehumidifier is also helpful for keeping mould growing conditions in check in damp rooms.

It is important to change the filters on your furnace, air purifier and dehumidifier regularly to help keep them in top performing shape. Try to check filters monthly and change them at least once per season. Check more frequently if you are renovating or live in an area with active road construction, as dust may clog the filters faster than normal.

The Home Depot carries many options for home air system improvement. Talk to a Home Depot Associate about the types of options that would work best in your home. With a little bit of knowledge and some great products, you can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to your home's indoor air quality.