Get cleaner air in your home

Written by on February 5, 2018 in Housing Choice Voucher Program, Scattered sites, Seattle Housing Authority - Comments Off

By Daniela Vega

American Lung Assocciation of Washington

The American Lung Association is offering free home checkups for Seattle residents

Did you know that indoor air quality can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air? We may not realize the hidden dangers lurking inside our own homes and the steps we can take to reduce our exposure.

The American Lung Association has resources and programs that can help. Seattle residents can schedule a free Healthy Home Check-up through the Master Home Environmentalist program. Experienced staff will conduct an in-home assessment on environmental health hazards specific to your home or apartment that affect indoor air quality. To participate, please call 206-512-3294 or email mhe@lung.org.

A variety of harmful pollutants including molds, mildews, carbon monoxide, radon, formaldehyde, asbestos, lead, secondhand smoke, allergens and chemicals have the potential to mix together in our homes to create polluted air.

This toxic soup of air pollutants can lead to an increase in asthma rates, asthmatic attacks, and exacerbations of other lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The good news is that there are simple behavioral changes you can make to reduce your exposure such as taking your shoes off at the door, vacuuming regularly, and opening your windows every day for 10-20 minutes to flush out the stale air and bring in the fresh air.

Removing your shoes at the door and using a mat will reduce the amount of track-in dust and dirt you bring inside the home. Seattle residents who sign up for a Healthy Home Checkup will receive a complimentary mat to help get you started on your way to achieving a healthier home.

Dust can contain some harmful stuff including lead, asbestos, pesticides, dust mites, mold spores, carcinogens and more. Taking your shoes off at the door has been found to be the most effective way to reduce lead by nine to 13 times.

And a high-quality mat reduces lead by five to six times. Exposure to dusty materials may cause chronic congestion, increase the risk of allergies, increase the incidence of asthma attacks and result in learning disabilities.

Infants and toddlers in the home not only inhale dust, but also ingest twice at much dust as adults when they are crawling around the floor making them much more exposed. Vacuuming, damp dusting and mopping once a week can help to reduce dust and your family’s exposure to it.

During the winter, it’s important to make sure you’re still ventilating your home every day to flush out the stale air we tend to seal up when it gets cold out. It’s also ideal to have the temperature in your home around 65 degrees or higher.

Maintaining this temperature will help reduce cold zones in the home. Moisture in the air tends to gravitate to cold zones resulting in increased humidity in these areas of the home. Cold air can retain more moisture than warm air so it’s important to minimize cold zones. Condensation on the inside of your windows can be an indicator of high humidity. Ventilate your home every day and use exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom to reduce humidity levels.

Mold is another issue that increases during winter. Mold can cause respiratory problems and trigger asthma attacks. Mold spores are everywhere—on your clothes, in your office, in your car and in your home. Mold spores become an issue when they find the perfect environment to thrive and colonize.
Mold needs two things to survive: something to eat (dust or paint chips) and water to drink (usually in the form of moisture in the air). Ideally humidity levels in your home should be kept between 30 to 50 percent to reduce mold growth and prevent dust mites from thriving.

The best and easiest way to remove visible mold is using soap and warm water. Please do not use bleach because the idea is not to kill the mold, but rather to address the fundamental reason why mold is thriving. It’s also important to note that the vapors from bleach can be harmful to the lungs and irritate the skin.
Interested in learning more on reducing your exposure to health hazards in the home? Schedule a free Healthy Home Check-up through our Master Home Environmentalist program. Visit www.wamhe.org for more information or call 206-512-3294.

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