Here's how to breathe easier. 

By Katie Holdefehr
February 05, 2020

When we think about air pollution, most of us probably consider the quality of the air outside our homes. But indoor air pollution is finally gaining more attention. In addition to the outdoor pollution that makes its way into our homes through open windows or the front door, other factors (like the off-gassing of chemicals from paints or home decor products) can also influence indoor air quality. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways we can change our habits and shop smarter to improve indoor air quality. For starters, check for mold, track indoor humidity levels, and consider investing in an air purifier. Then, be mindful of the five everyday activities listed below. 

RELATED: The Best Air Purifiers for Allergies, According to Allergy Sufferers

1
Cooking

Every time we cook on the stovetop or toast a piece of bread, the air quality inside our homes drops. In fact, according to a study by the University of Texas at Austin, even simple things like accidentally burning your toast or cooking a Thanksgiving meal could expose you to more toxic particles than standing in the middle of a busy city intersection. Yikes! 

Try this: Remember to turn on the exhaust vent over your stove whenever you cook. Or if you don't have one, increase the ventilation by opening a window. 

2
Burning Candles 

For those of us who aspired to adopt the hygge lifestyle in 2018, a study conducted by the University of Copenhagen put a damper on things when it found that particles from burning candles were as harmful to mice as diesel fumes. 

Try this: Limit your exposure by burning fewer candles and for a shorter length of time. If you want the cozy glow of candles (without the air pollution), try switching to flameless candles or even a string of fairy lights set in a bowl or glass jar. 

3
Forgetting to Dust

Dust is one of the most common indoor allergens, so if you're failing to dust your home and vacuum the floor, carpets, and rugs, it could result in lower air quality. 

Try this: Commit to a weekly dusting routine. Don't worry, it doesn't need to take long. Start by dusting upper surfaces like countertops and tables, then vacuum the floor or carpet below. Then check out these 13 places you're probably forgetting to dust

4
Painting

Many of the paints you would use to paint your walls or a piece of furniture contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are off-gassed or released into the air in your home. Over time, the chemicals dissipate, but off-gassing can happen for several months after a room is freshly painted. 

Try this: Shop no- or low-VOC paints instead. Today, most major paint brands offer at least one more eco-friendly line. 

5
Cleaning With Chemicals

It's not just paint that releases VOCs—many cleaning products do as well. Chlorine bleach, aerosol sprays, air fresheners, and upholstery cleaners are all likely to contain harmful VOCs. 

Try this: Where you can, switch to all-natural, chemical-free cleaning solutions. Ditch the chemical-filled air freshening sprays in favor of more natural alternatives, such as baking soda and lemon juice. 

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