Open up for a Healthier Home

The other day a salesman knocked on my mother’s door in Orrington and proclaimed his ability to predict my mothers air quality.  It was like watching when the door to door vacuum cleaner salesman would knock on your door and throw dirt on the carpet….proceed to clean it up ……then sell you a vacuum.  He didn’t ask her anything about her habits just proceeded to pull out an “air quality meter” that showed her to have very bad air quality as he put it….big surprise  He then went into his spiel about his air purifier that would solve all her problems and only cost $2000!!!!!  I passed him my card and let him in on  a secret….my mother smokes in her home.  If someone tries to evaluate your air quality with one test … wary….and if your air quality is bad….Open Your Windows…..

Many of us think about green living and reducing our carbon footprints. But do we get enough fresh air into our homes? Energy efficient homes don’t get much ventilation, unless windows are opened regularly. Airborne contaminants in homes can build up to many times the outdoor concentrations.

Until the 1970s, homes were not well insulated or sealed. With the current green consciousness, new homes are built to reduce energy consumption and many older homes are upgraded to modern standards. Ventilation is the part of the picture that is often missing. A modern, energy-efficient home can have very unhealthy indoor air.

Radon gas, formaldehyde vapor, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and mold caused by excess moisture are indoor air contaminants that can be reduced by opening windows.

  • Radon is a radioactive gas that enters homes from the soil. It is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
  • Formaldehyde is emitted by new wood products, adhesives, paints, wood finishes, and some consumer products. It causes eye and respiratory irritation as low as 0.1 ppm. Formaldehyde can trigger asthma symptoms, and it is a carcinogen.
  • Formaldehyde can be formed when pine or citrus-scented cleaning products react with ozone in the air. Ozone is more likely to be elevated in warm, sunny weather.
  • Volatile organic compounds are emitted by many construction materials and some consumer products. VOCs can cause a wide range of neurologic symptoms.
  • Mold grows on building materials when moisture is present. Some mold spores and fragments can cause allergy or asthma symptoms.

All of the problems listed above can be reduced by simply opening windows a few times a week. Here in the Maine it’s not always easy to do, but on those warmer winter days when the sun is shinning….Open Up.  What could be more green than allowing natural ventilation to improve the health of our homes?