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Take A Cleansing Breath: Keeping Your Home Clear Of Harmful Indoor Air Pollutants

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Just the other day I mentioned to my husband how dry and chapped my skin and lips were feeling, and his first response pointed to the increased heat in the house, and a quick comment about needing to invest in a humidifier to put some moisture back in our environment.

In fact, according to experts, most of us “do” or “should” use either a humidifier or a dehumidifier to add moisture to the air during the cold, dry winters; or the eliminate the dampness from the air for family members show suffer from allergies and perhaps other health issues.

Still, they suggest that while these devises are supposed to help “improve” conditions, some may actually be doing us more harm than good.

According to experts, the influx of new home being built airtight to save on energy may mean problems with indoor air pollution for many. And, they note that the air we breathe in our homes may be more detrimental to our health than the air we breathe outside.

With that said, they insist on proper maintenance of the devices (humidifier and dehumidifier) designer to keep our environment clean.

And, they add that in large part keeping your home a place where you and your family can breather easy is simply a matter of 1) Controlling the dampness in your home, 2) properly cleaning the machinery, and 3) adding back humidity if the air is too dry.

When it comes to being able to breathe easy, the most important indoor contaminants to be aware of and get rid of are second-hand smoke and allergens such as dust mites that proliferate in humid conditions, and cats. In fact, they have all been linked to asthma severity. Among other pollutants such as mould are a direct result of damp conditions that can lead to a host of other health problems such as asthma or allergic rhinitis.

And, they add that there are a variety of signs that your home is too humid including:

· A damp or musty smell, noticeable when you enter your home.

· A buildup of white or black spotting on exposed basement foundation, an indication of mould growing.

· Condensation on windows.

Experts assert that dehumidifiers “can” be helpful for humid environments but that using a dehumidifier for a roof or basement leak may be an ineffective solution and any traces of mould need to be immediately removed. In fact, they suggest that when dealing with humidity, it’s best to deal with the root of the problem, but if you find that your kitchen and washroom typically generate lots of moisture and your exhaust fans are not properly eliminating it a dehumidifier may be a necessary option. But, they stress that for best results and ensuring that your dehumidifier does not contribute to the pollutants in your home, you have to be fastidious about keeping it clean.

Experts suggest frequently emptying the tank and wiping surfaces dry as well as thoroughly reading and following the maintenance instruction outlined in the original manual.

They further add that it’s best to invest in an inexpensive hygrometer, a tool that serves as a humidity sensor (found in most hardware stores), to gage the relative humidity of your home. This is essential in helping you decide on the proper setting for your dehumidifier.

And, if your home is too dry, which may be quite common in the winter, and can be identified by static electricity, dry, chapped lips and skin, nose and throat irritation and breathing problems, means you need to put some moisture back in the air.

A humidifier is your best bet, but experts stress that you could be cautious not to over-humidify, again, making a hygrometer a handy tool to have.

It’s important to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent fungal or other bio-organism contamination and again, experts suggest referring to your manual for appropriate maintenance and cleaning instructions. They note that bioaerosols from contaminated humidifiers can result in allergic symptoms and also a condition commonly referred to as humidifier fever that yields flu-like symptoms.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Take A Cleansing Breath: Keeping Your Home Clear Of Harmful Indoor Air Pollutants

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