Did you know that your efforts to keep cold or hot air out of your house are trapping air pollutants in? Houses these days are constructed so tightly that they lack the natural ventilation of yesteryear. The cleaning products, building products, pet dander, mold spores, dust mites, and other pollutants can have harsh effects on seniors with compromised immune systems. Fortunately, here are some steps you can take to protect yourself.
Protecting Seniors from Indoor Air Pollution
Monitor and Test
Install carbon monoxide detectors and test your home for radon. Radon is a byproduct of decaying uranium that is naturally found in some soil. It is invisible and odorless. However, it can lead to serious illness if it finds its way into your home. Test kits are fairly affordable so you can conduct the test yourself. Many of the tests involve you sampling the air in your house. You then send the sample to a laboratory to get the results. There are several ways to block the entry of radon into your home.
Similarly, carbon monoxide can also cause you harm, and you cannot see or smell it. CO is a combustion byproduct, and it comes from gas-fired water heaters, space-heating equipment, fireplaces, kerosene heaters, and several other in-home sources. Make sure the areas where this equipment operates are well-ventilated.
Choose Products that Don’t Pollute
Fumes that can be harmful to seniors are produced by building products, solvents, cleaning products, adhesives, and some plants. Therefore, you should choose low-VOC (volatile organic compound) or low emitting products.
The evaporation point for some chemical compounds is room temperature. This causes fumes. Most of the time, VOCs are harmless. Other times, they can produce headaches, dizziness, and irritation of the throat, nose, and eyes. Serious diseases may develop after long-term exposure.
Change Your Air Conditioner and Furnace Filters
The equipment inside forced-air HVAC systems is protected from household dust by filters. You must regularly change these filters to reduce air pollution in the home. Do it at the beginning of the heating seasons, and if a central air conditioner is part of the system, change the filter at the start of the cooling season as well.
Bacteria, mold spores, and some allergens are not removed by standard filters. You will require a high-efficiency filter to take these air pollutants out of the system. The rating of the filter will tell you how efficient it is. The minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) is rated on a scale of one to twenty by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers.
Use Natural Ventilation
You can clear the air by opening doors and windows. Of course, if it is extremely cold or hot outside, you should avoid this alternative. But, at some pollution sources, you can spot ventilate. Make sure your dryer vent and bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans are working correctly. They remove moisture that could cause mold. Also, use and store solvents, adhesives, paints, and other building products in well-ventilated areas to dissipate the harmful fumes they leave behind.
By taking these simple steps, you can avoid the dangers that indoor air pollution poses for older adults.
This Article is a contribution to Leisure Freak from the talented freelance writer Jackie Edwards.
Now working as a full-time freelance writer, Jackie Edwards is also a busy mum of two small children. In any free time she has (which isn’t much) she likes to volunteer and do charity work and take the family greyhound Bertie for long walks.