Reducing Indoor Allergens and Pollutants: Tips on Maintaining Clean, Healthy Air


Unless there’s rotting food or a gas leak, you probably don’t give much thought to your indoor air quality. But the truth is that the air in American homes is often less healthy to breathe than the air outside. Allergens, VOCs, and other indoor pollutants can be harmful to children, especially those with breathing problems. Vacuuming and dusting regularly can help but cannot control all of the particulate matter floating around in your home. Ensuring that your children are breathing clean air means regularly cleaning in places you might otherwise get to just once or twice a year.


A quality air purifier with a HEPA filter can help capture particulate pollutants. Your furnace, dehumidifier, dryer, and refrigerator should be checked to make sure they’re operating efficiently to minimize the amount of moisture in your home, which can create ideal conditions for dust mites and mold. If you don’t have one, purchase a CO2 detector to make sure there are no dangerous carbon dioxide accumulations.

Dust and mold buildups represent a potentially dangerous threat to children and anyone in your home who suffers from asthma, so keep air vents free of dust and make sure outside vents aren’t blocked by accumulations of leaves, snow, or other lawn debris. Air ducts should be vacuumed on a regular basis and drip trays kept clean to inhibit mold. Repair plumbing leaks as soon as you find them (another potential source of mold), and keep clothes dryer vents and ducts free of dust and lint buildup, which can cause fire as well as unhealthy breathing air.

Objects that circulate air throughout the home should also be checked, so keep your HVAC unit clean and serviced every year, and clean or replace filters when needed. Pay attention to both sides of ceiling fan blades so they do not accumulate dust and spread particulate matter throughout the house. In the fall, remove window screens that could trap condensation and encourage mold accumulation, and have your chimney inspected and cleaned to remove dangerous creosote accumulations. Inspect the exterior of your home carefully for holes and cracks that could let in mice and other vermin, which carry mites and microbes that could be dangerous to small children.

Signs of illness

Pulmonary issues are often easy to detect because many of the symptoms are unusual and overt. A frequent cough, wheezing breath, shortness of breath, and chest pain should be taken seriously and checked out by a doctor. They could be indicative of indoor air quality problems that need to be dealt with. Children who have trouble recovering from a respiratory infection, have difficulty playing or exercising due to breathing problems, and exhibit signs of fatigue may also be suffering the effects of poor breathing air.


Don’t hesitate to seek medical help if your child is having trouble breathing or showing signs of asthma. A permanent narrowing of the bronchial tubes and permanently impeded breathing can be the result of a serious respiratory problem. Never allow smoking around your child, encourage him to be as active as possible (regular exercise is key), monitor his diet since obesity is a contributing factor, and watch for signs of acid reflux, which can seriously aggravate a breathing condition.

Pay careful attention to your child’s breathing patterns and energy level. They may be telling you that there’s a serious threat to your home’s air quality. Basic maintenance will help, but bear in mind that compromised breathing air can be caused by a wide range of factors.

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