Allergens. Irritants. Airborne viruses. Hormone-disrupting chemicals. Any one these indoor air pollutants in your home is enough, thank you. Now add wildfire smoke, if you live in the growing number of regions impacted.
If even thinking about these sources of indoor air pollution puts you on overwhelm, you’re not alone. Never mind contemplating cleaning it all up.
The good news— It’s not all or nothing. Every step, however small or simple, can help.
The smaller, simpler steps
In my healthy home services I specialize in clients with allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities. Reducing airborne triggers means taking one simple step at a time. Following are practical measures that add up.
- Have everyone leave their shoes at the door. Keep slippers handy for your household and guests. “Eighty percent or more of the dirt that comes into a space is brought in on our shoes,” according to this CleanLink article.
- Use walk-off mats at entrances, inside and out. Long enough for a few adult footsteps. According the same CleanLink article. “you can improve IAQ by as much as 50 percent just by installing good matting systems”. I’m exploring healthy matting materials. Meanwhile, here’s a guide from Waxie Sanitary Supply Co. for commercial and institutional buildings.
- Open windows when safe to do so. Safe, meaning you’re not living near a major freeway, nor refinery. Nor in the path of wildfire smoke or an extreme heat wave.
- Prevent mold. Start by keeping surfaces clean and dry.
- Use toxic-free personal care products. Find well-researched toxic-free brands through Environmental Working Group, Made Safe, or Nontoxic U.
- Change your HVAC filters at least quarterly.
- Bring in air purifiers as needed, to reduce your exposures as you work on your next steps. You can make your own, like the Corsi-Rosenthal Box in my leading photo for this post. Mike and I use a commercial one from Air Doctor, with a HEPA filter. Not that we’ve compared all the brands yet. So here are some brand reviews from Nontoxic U.
- Gradually let go of any clutter. Doing so creates conditions for efficient, thorough cleaning.
The bigger steps
- Get your kitchen exhaust fan, and your bathroom fan, working, if they’re not already. And use them. Be sure they’re vented to outside your home.
- Gradually replace toxic furnishings throughout your home with healthier pieces. At least in your sleeping space, where you spend the most time. For example, anything with polyurethane foam treated with flame retardants. You can find healthier replacements at many retailers now, Eco-Terric and Coyuchi among them.
- Have your HVAC system checked. Check out expert advice from Nate Adams, Home Performance expert at The House Whisperer.
- When remodeling, learn about healthier materials at Donghia healthier Materials Library.