Indoor Air Quality: Breathe Easier During The Coldest Months

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While winter weather has been slow getting started in southeastern North Carolina, we have experienced a couple of cold spells, with ample opportunity for more in the weeks and months to come.

Chilly temperatures can cause us to seal up our homes to keep out the cold and make our home heating systems more energy efficient. This makes sense, of course, but it has a downside. Weatherproofing our homes not only eliminates the flow of fresh air, it traps allergens and pollutants inside. Poor air quality can aggravate medical symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and allergic reactions such as itchiness of the eyes, nose and throat. Serious long-term effects may occur with heightened levels and continuous exposure to poor air quality.

Take a deep breath, however. There are steps you can take to reduce the negatives and accentuate the positives.

  • Replace air filters frequently.
  • Test for radon and lead. Take steps required to rid your home of both.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detection device and replace the batteries twice a year.
  • Clean your home regularly, including bedding. Use non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Ventilate mold-prone areas of the home—typically places of moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements and garages.
  • Opt for low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) products whenever possible. Be aware of levels of these potentially harmful chemicals in home improvement products, hobby supplies, air fresheners, beauty products and many other household items.
  • Limit exposure to dry cleaned fabrics, as they may emit formaldehyde and other chemicals.
  • Open doors and windows when possible to allow fresh air to circulate.
  • Consider using an air purifier.
  • If you have indoor pets, bathe them and clean your home even more often than usual. Pet dander is among the most irritating and difficult-to-remove allergens.
  • Do not smoke, nor allow anyone else to smoke in your house, as it is a serious health risk to everyone in the house.
  • Consider using household plants to naturally purify the air, but beware of overwatering them, which can cause mold to grow.

Once you know the causes of many types of indoor pollutants and where to find them, you can be proactive about reducing or eliminating them. A home with healthy air will make your whole family breathe easier this winter.

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Medac provides excellent medical care without an appointment at four convenient locations. Our Military Cutoff, Porters Neck and Monkey Junction locations are open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., and the Shipyard Boulevard location is the area’s only urgent care that is open until 11 p.m.