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5 Resolutions for a Healthier Home in 2020

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air in your home can be two to five times worse than your outdoor air. The reason is obvious: pollutants. Once they enter a home or business, airborne contaminants will naturally build up more than they would in an outdoor space. These pollutants can include:

  • Mold and mildew

  • Asbestos

  • Dust and pollen

  • Dander and pet hair

  • Secondhand smoke

Some of these may trigger allergies, while others may lead to more severe health problems such as eye, throat, and respiratory irritations. Entire properties, both residential and commercial, can develop a condition known as sick building syndrome, where the occupants suffer from an illness with no discernible cause. The EPA, World Health Organization (WHO), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have all warned about this condition.

As a homeowner, you want to make sure you and your family are breathing the cleanest air that you can get. The following tips can help you achieve this goal in the new year.

Prevent Condensation Build-Up

Condensation build-up, when combined with temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees and relative humidity levels of 60 percent or more, will provide the perfect environment for mold and bacteria growth. While mold and bacteria can always be in the air, unhealthy levels can put your family’s health at risk.

Mold exposure can result in:

  • Sneezing and coughing

  • Red, itchy eyes

  • Skin rash

  • Coughing and shortness of breath

Preventing condensation build-up takes on many forms. As per the Center for Disease Control (CDC), you should quickly fix any leaks from your roof, windows, and pipes and make sure to ventilate your cooking, laundry, and shower areas. Condensation may develop in the attic and crawl space, but installing spray foam insulation can help prevent this issue.


Hire an Asbestos Professional

Asbestos is even more dangerous than mold and is a contributing factor in a rare and aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. Though asbestos use has been restricted in the U.S. since the 1970s, it can still be found in older materials such as:

  • Insulation

  • Tiling

  • Drywall

  • Paint

  • Cement

If you live in a historic home or one built prior to 1980, you should hire an asbestos professional to check if anything in your home contains asbestos. The EPA does note that asbestos-containing materials only cause harm when disturbed: for example, during a construction or remodeling project. Unless you're about to undertake such a project, you may not need to do anything special in terms of prevention.


Have the Air Ducts Cleaned

The National Air Duct Cleaners Association states that pollutants in the ductwork can be re-circulated anywhere from five to seven times a day. This means plenty of build-up in the ducts. Air duct cleaning can get rid of all those indoor air contaminants (with the exception of asbestos).


Consider HEPA Filtration

HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and HEPA filters can trap everything from pet dander to cigarette smoke in its fine mesh. While you may be vacuuming your floors and furnishings regularly, it would be even better to do so with a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner.


Invest in Green Cleaning Products

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a type of pollutant often found in chemical household products like:

  • Disinfectants

  • Air fresheners

  • Detergent

  • Dry cleaning chemicals

To keep your indoor air free of these harmful chemicals, you could look into green cleaning products. Homemade cleaning products, such as plant-based cleaners, are another possibility. The EPA warns against buying products with generic claims like "eco-safe" and "environmentally friendly", as these phrases aren’t regulated and can be misleading. The EPA has created a program called Safer Choice that allows them to regulate and designate which products are a safe and green alternative for the environment. Sometimes, it will be a trade-off as you choose between products with their distinct pros and cons.


Bottom line: Many of these steps, such as the air duct cleaning and mold inspection, you can leave to our professional team at Burns Environmental Services. We even provide mold remediation and asbestos removal services. Call us at (800) 577-4009 to schedule an appointment today!