Ask the Expert
clear the air
Q: I've heard that air quality can be poor in homes, especially during the winter months when everything is shut tightly and people spend more time indoors. What are some tips for improving the air in our home?
Home indoor air quality (IAQ) is a very important factor in maintaining our lung health, especially for those suffering from lung diseases like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). There are many actions we can do to improve our IAQ. The following are the top easy ways to improve your winter Alaskan home IAQ.
- Don’t smoke indoors. If you must smoke, be sure to take it outside away from your loved ones and home. Smoking not only negatively affects the smoker (it’s the most common cause of cancer), but tobacco secondhand smoke is also extremely toxic. Interested in quitting tobacco? Try the QuitLine (1-800-QUIT-NOW), a free and confidential cessation resource.
- Use a high-quality walk-off doormat outside your door and remove shoes when you come inside to reduce dust indoors.
- Use a pleated paper filter in your forced-air furnace and change it every 1-3 months.
- Learn how to properly use your woodstove and make sure that it’s EPA certified.
- Split, stack and store your firewood in early spring or, better yet, a year before use to ensure you are burning dry wood in the winter months. Dry wood will burn at hotter temperatures, resulting in you using less, and thus reducing the amount of particulate matter produced by your woodstove. Remember that the air in our homes comes from outside, so if our outside air is dirty, then our indoor air is also dirty.
- Test for radon. Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless and abundant. Exposure to radon is the second greatest cause of lung cancer. Testing for radon is easy, cheap, and radon mitigation systems can be installed.
You can call the free American Lung Association Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA to ask questions about these tips or to find out more. I hope these tips will help you breathe easier in your home this winter!