Most people spend 90% of their time indoors, where air quality is likely to be much more problematic than it is outdoors. Pollutants from consumer products; toxic byproducts of burning wood, oil, and gas; humidity; even the dirt on the soles of your shoes can have or lead to health impacts, alone or in combination with other factors. (Be especially careful if you live in one of America’s 50 dirtiest cities.)
For all of these potential sources of health problems, ventilation is key to keeping indoor air cleansed and comfortable to breathe. Modern HVAC systems do a good job not only at moderating temperature but also at filtering the air and even regulating humidity. In the absence of a high-functioning system, it is particularly important to open windows and use fans to reduce known exposures to chemicals and pathogens.
Still, good ventilation is not enough to protect your family from all household contamination, particularly family members with asthma, autism, allergies, and various respiratory conditions. General cleanliness, conscious avoidance of some consumer products, being aware of water leaks, banning tobacco smoke, changing air filters, and monitoring for pollutants that may come from the home itself, such as lead, asbestos, and radon, will all help assure that your family is breathing air that will not make them sick. (It’s always a good idea to pay attention to these warning signs that you’re in bad health.)
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