Friday, January 21, 2011

How do I maintain indoor air quality?

Ask Ida

Dear Ida B. Green,

I keep chemical cleaners out of our house and we keep the kids' bedroom windows cracked for fresh air at night but I'm still worried about indoor air quality.


Clean Air

Dear Clean Air,

I'm glad you've eliminated harsh chemicals from your home, but, as you suggest, there are other important air quality concerns. Right off the bat, I worry about your increased demand for fossil fuel to heat your home when leaving windows open. Whether heating with electricity or gas, the chemicals and toxins emitted in mining, excavation, transportation and burning of fossil fuels will remain in our air, land and waters throughout your children's lifetimes and beyond. This is not a healthy air quality situation.

Before opening those windows, do some actual testing of your home's air quality. DIY kits are inexpensive and easy to use for radon, mold, bacteria, formaldehyde, asbestos and lead testing. A local professional can give you a more complete air quality check, though it will cost considerably more.

Two immediate fixes for your home's air quality:

- Use a high-quality air filter for your furnace and change it often during the heating season.

- Keep air-cleaning houseplants in all occupied rooms. NASA has found that plants such as English ivy and peace lily are effective in removing formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide. Look online for lists of air-cleaning plants.

Keep it Green,


—Elizabeth Jeffrey

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