Want to Breathe Better? Get Clean Air!

Want to Breathe Better? Get Clean Air!

Clean air is one of those essentials of life, isn''t it? You can survive days without water, but only five minutes without air. Unfortunately our air is jammed with pollutants we usually can''t see, and those things go up our noses and into our lungs. There are plenty of sites on the internet that discuss outdoor pollution, but here lets talk about clean air inside your home.

Did you know that the average adult takes 24,000 breaths a day, breathing about 2 gallons of air per minute? That adds up to about 3,000 gallons a day. That''s a lot of dust and gases going in, too.

You''ve seen shafts of sunlight come through the windws filled with all those pretty sparkles? I bet if you looked at some of them under a microscope, they would not look so nice. They are the particles that inhabit our air space and include things like pollen, mold, bits of dead insects, flakes of skin and countless other icky things I''d rather not think about breathing in.

Gases also fill your air at home. The vapors from your new carpet, your old furniture and your cleaning supplies stick around for a long time if you don''t make the effort to get them out. Smoking emits a lot of toxic gases too, of course, but did you know that burning cigarettes or wood also release particles into the air?

Another indoor air pollutant is radon, which is a radioactive gas that comes from the soil or rock beneath a house. There is always some radon in the air outside, but the danger comes when it gets into the house and stays there. Scientists believe it is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. There are ways to treat your house to reduce your exposure, but the most immediate way to get rid of the radon already there is to open the windows.

So what can you do to get your air clean? Air it out, for starters. Your home needs too breathe, too, so open those windows for ventilation. This easy step will clear many of those gases out, and bring new air in. There''s nothing I like better than to open windows on opposite side of the house and feel the breeze coming through, bringing with it the smells and clear air from outside. The house is different after it breathes for awhile.

Air cleaners are an option for clean air in your home. There are three main types: filters, electronic air cleaners, and ion generators.

Filters grab particles from the air as it is drawn though by a fan. A basic one is on your central air system, if you have one. That should be changed monthly and is only a small part of your clean air routine. The HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter is probably the best one to have because it catches all but the smallest particles. Many people with allergies have HEPA filters in their homes. I have also seen stand alone table top type air filters with HEPA filtering systems, but haven''t used one yet.

If you have any air filters in your home, you simply must change them at least once a month, especially if you are running your system for long periods of time. I buy filters that say "60 day," but there is no way they can last that long without getting totally clogged and straining my central air system.

Electronic air filters are more expensive and also more pro-active in cleaning particles from your air. They come in two types, electrostatic and charged media.

Electrostatic is just a fancy name for the Ionic Breeze and similar products. This type "charges" or ionizes particles in the air near the unit, which are then collected on a series of flat plates inside it, like static cling for dust! This process does create a small breeze as the clean air comes through and the particles stay behind.

You need to clean the plates at least weekly or they lose their effectiveness as they become covered with dust. It''s almost as easy as it looks on the commercials. We have had one in three bedrooms and in the kitchen, they do make a difference in the air and maintenance is quite simple. You can also have electrostatic air cleaners installed in your central air system, but I can''t imagine what it would take to clean it!

The charged media type of electronic air cleaner has a filter inside with a static charge that collects the particles. This type is less common and needs a filter change regularly.

The last major type of air cleaner is an ionizer, which charges the particles in a room and causes them to stick to surfaces like walls, floors and drapes. The particles aren''t gone, but at least they aren''t floating around looking of r a nose to gly into. You can dust or vacuum them up easily.

All of these take care of particulates to some extent, but do not do much for the gases floating around in your home. The two best ways to rid yourself of those is to find the sources. Think about your cleaning products: are there other, less toxic ways to get the same results? And what about your old furniture or pressboard bookcase? It may have to go. Cooking? Turn on the exhaust fan or open the windows. There are ways around every problem, you just have to stand back and think about them for a bit.

We seal our homes so well to keep the weather out that we forget there is weather inside too, filled with pollutants that we need to be free of. Clean air is your number one need, because after all, if you can''t breathe, you can''t do much of anything else. Your home needs to be a sanctuary. Clean air is just the first step toward a truly comfortable nest.

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