Every day women are exposed to harmful air pollution—and it doesn’t all come from car exhaust, smog and the sidewalk smokers passed on your way to lunch. On average, you spend about 65 to 90 percent of your day indoors. With that much time inside, the air breathed indoors becomes essential to your good health. Improving your indoor air quality or IAQ may help you fight respiratory illnesses, allergies, asthma and even reduce instances of dry, itchy skin.
What are you breathing?
Inside, your air quality is affected by many factors. These include pollutants such as:
- Tobacco smoke
- Fumes from cleaning products
- Candle smoke
- Mold and pollen
- Pet dander
Secondhand smoke, also known as environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), has more than 50 cancer-causing substances. If you’re regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, be aware—it not only can contribute to cancer but also can be an asthma trigger. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) reports, more women die from asthma than men each year with female deaths accounting for about 65 percent of all asthma deaths.
What changes can be made to improve air quality?
You can begin improvements to your indoor air quality by not allowing any tobacco smoke in your home. When using cleaning products, solvents or paints (spray or room paints) exercise caution. Make sure the room is well ventilated and opt for VOC (volatile organic compound) free products. You can find indoor paint in modern, fun colors that will cover in a single coat. Several major brands offer VOC-free paint including Benjamin Moore, Olympic and Sherwin-Williams.
Candles can make a room feel cozy or romantic, but regularly burning candles made from paraffin can release pollutants into the air you don’t want to breathe. Choose soy candles instead or even electric candles to enjoy the ambiance without compromising your IAQ.
Pollen, mold and pet dander all act as triggers for allergies and asthma. Reduce these indoor air pollutants by using a quality air filter in your home’s heating and cooling system. Forget the cheap flat-panel fiberglass filter, select pleated filters rated at least a MERV 8 and designed to trap these specific allergens.
Did you know? Running a humidifier can help improve your IAQ as well provide necessary moisture to help keep dry, itchy skin at bay. The EPA recommends keeping your home humidity level above 30 percent for the best health benefits.