During the cold winter months, we keep our home shut tightly to keep out the cold temperatures. With Americans spending about 90 percent of their time indoors, that means most of us will be living and breathing in those tight sealed environments until spring.

Most people associate the outdoor air as being polluted from sources like car exhaust, industrial emissions, and more. But actually, indoor pollutants can be up to 3 to 5 times as high as the outdoors.

What can make indoor air so polluted?

The most common indoor air pollutants are obvious, like cigarette smoke. Some other indoor pollutants that are less obvious are:

• Household cleaning products
• Central heating and cooling systems
• Humidification devices
• Radon
• Air fresheners
• Combustion sources (gas, oil, kerosene, coal, and wood)
• Personal care products (hair spray, nail polish, perfumes or body spray, etc.)
• Materials for hobbies (glues, epoxy, paint strippers, etc.)
• Pesticides

These sources release a slew of chemical particles into your home, where it settles on your carpeting and upholstery. When you walk through a room or sit on your furniture, the dust with these chemicals gets stirred up into the air, where you breathe it in again.

What can you do to lower your home’s indoor air pollution?

Consider professional carpet, upholstery, and area rug cleaning to remove the large majority of these toxins from your home, including pet dander, dust mites, and pollen to name a few. Some other steps to take to minimize indoor air pollution are:

1. Minimize Pollutant Sources: Avoid spraying pesticides, chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and other synthetic products in your home.
2. Keep Your Home Clean: Regular dusting and vacuuming can keep some pollutants at bay. Your sheets and towel should be washed weekly in hot water, and also, keep the wet areas in your home (kitchen and bathrooms) dry to avoid mold and mildew.
3. Try to Increase Ventilation: When possible, open windows or doors to let in some fresh air. Consider using window or attic fans or kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans, as they vent your indoor air directly to the outdoors.
4. Consider an Air Purifier: HEPA air purifiers do an excellent job of filtering out these toxic particles in your home. They do vary widely in effectiveness, so be sure to do your homework when purchasing an indoor air purifier.