Improve indoor air quality at home
Choose to create a home and environment that is low-pollution, low-allergen and eco-friendly. Other than the prevention tips listed here, there are a number of other ways to create a healthy home environment, including the growing number of eco-alternatives to many common products.
These tips are mostly from the 'Your Home' Technical Manual.
Identify current causes of poor air quality. Avoid the use of:
- Materials, finishes and furnishing that have high levels of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and other pollutants through careful selection, purchase, installation and maintenance. Instead, use materials that are raw, natural, pre-dyed, quick drying or water-soluble and low-VOC. Use traditional finishes and paints (which are often more durable and long-lasting). Also, try to fix problems mechanically rather than using glues and binders.
- Synthetic and chemically treated fabrics in clothing, soft furnishings, bedroom linen and carpet. Use textiles such as organic cotton, silk, hemp, organic linen and bamboo (which makes a fabulously strong and soft fabric), that contain natural dyes or raw finishes, low-toxin binders and no petrochemicals. Note however that cotton production uses a lot of water and toxic pesticides so choose cotton products that come with verification of sustainable and natural production methods.
- Un-flued heaters and internal gas hot water systems. When operating open fireplaces, ensure the space can be shut off from other parts of the home.
- Chemically treated pest barriers in both building materials and home pesticides. Choose natural controls and use bio-friendly and low-toxin detergents, cleaners and personal, body products.
Promote cross-ventilation and natural ventilation:
- Ensure your home takes advantage of prevailing winds for cross-ventilation to clear out kitchen odours, dry out bathrooms, keep living areas fresh and provide breezes to bedrooms on warm nights.
- Ventilate storage areas and use natural mould eliminators (such as good cleaning and maintenance) where shoes, bags, books or other items are likely to become mouldy.
- Control moisture and minimise the growth of fungi and mould. Also, clean, dust and vacuum regularly and air all mattresses; dust mites thrive in damp warm environments and can cause serious allergies. Ensure well-sealed joinery in wet areas to reduce the chance of rot and mould.
- Open windows, floor vents and ceiling exhausts to vent rooms that use un-flued heating appliances and open fireplaces.
- If near a main road, freeway or other source of dust and airborne particulates, consider installing an air filter. (There are portable ones too!)
Keep products that regularly outgas out of the home:
- Separate and store paints, solvents, chemicals and other high-VOC products outside and away from the home in a separate, shaded and well-ventilated shed.
- If possible, have a garage or car space that is not next to your home or near your home's doors and windows.
- Keep outlets for gas, heaters and hot water away from openings
- Use a doormat and draught-seals on windows and doors to minimise dust and debris from outside.
- Use plants inside and outside the home. Many common indoor plants are effective at removing VOCs and carbon monoxide from indoor air. Also consider growing vines, pot plants, shrubs and trees near windows and other natural ventilation openings to reduce dust and improve air quality in the home.
- Mop up oil spills on the driveway and make a big difference to cleaner waterways.
- Create your own stormwater improvement system; by establishing a raingarden around your home you can help improve the quality of stormwater to the bay.