Summer Weatherization Tips: Part Four

Few people genuinely enjoy hot humid days – but in addition to the physical discomfort, these environmental conditions are also dangerous for our health.

Poor air quality is one of the increased hazards – smog events occur when heat and sunlight “bake” chemical pollution in the air, increasing ozone levels. But did you know that, according to EPA research, indoor air quality can actually be 2 to 5 times higher compared to outdoor air quality, even on higher risk days?

What can we do to reduce the risks in our homes? First step is identifying potential sources for poor air quality indoors. The EPA identifies these as the most common sources in most homes –

  • Fuel-burning combustion appliances
  • Tobacco products
  • Building materials and furnishings as diverse as:
    • Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation
    • Newly installed flooring, upholstery or carpet
    • Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
  • Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
  • Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
  • Excess moisture
  • Outdoor sources such as:
    • Radon
    • Pesticides
    • Outdoor air pollution

Finding and removing (or at least venting) these sources where possible will improve indoor air quality. In fact, the simple act of cleaning our living spaces regularly will improve air quality (and, setting aside the seasonal risk, we should all be taking steps to clean regularly anyway to reduce risks from COVID-19.)

Consider investing in a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter, especially in spaces with carpeting, and remember to wash overlooked household items, like bedding or curtains.

Ultimately, remember that our historic homes are designed to “breathe” – pop open a window whenever possible for better ventilation. Use fans to circulate fresh air through the house. During high humidity events, use a dehumidifier in enclosed spaces to reduce the risk of mold and mildew.

Learn more at these links:

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