There's only so much you can do to prevent pollutants from entering your home. Many of the measures we have mentioned thus far will go a long way to improve the indoor air quality of your home. But pollutants will still enter your home, from your mother-in-law's perfume to wisps of wood smoke from a neighbor's chimney. In spring, you'll have pollen tracked and blown into your house. In winter, dust will accumulate. And each person in your house will add his or her burden of moisture to the air.
A house that breathes alleviates this burden by circulating indoor and outdoor air. Good circulation, achieved through proper ventilation, prevents pollutant buildup by diluting the air. Imagine a glass filled halfway with water. Now, picture it with a few drops of red food coloring added. The water would be a pinkish red color. If you gradually add more water, though, the water becomes less red, more pink. Pouring water in so the water overflows will cause the pink water to gradually become clear. Pollen, dust, VOCs, and particulates in the air are like that red food coloring, except you can't see them. Adding air to the mix reduces the concentration.
As we've discussed, exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen push pollutants out and reduce moisture. You can also open windows to increase air flow. Won't that let bad air in? Yes and no. You will get seepage of outdoor air pollutants, and on days when air quality is low-when pollen and mold counts or ozone and smog levels are high-it's wise to keep windows and doors closed. But on clean, clear days, opening the windows, at least a crack, will be helpful. There's no hard and fast rule. Just use common sense. Too many days without adequate ventilation will mean pollutant build up. Watch weather reports on the morning or evening news for information on ozone, pollen, and mold levels to determine when to keep your house closed up.
Also keep in mind that cross-ventilation improves circulation. Opening more than one window allows air to exit through one with replacement from another. When you use exhaust fans, opening a window a crack also helps circulate air. As dirty air is forced out, fresh air will be sucked in through the window to fill the gap.
Other means of ventilating homes include vents, strategically placed holes, heat-recovery ventilation systems, and whole house fans. To learn more about these, see The Healthy House and Understanding Ventilation by John Bower of The Healthy House Institute.
Excerpted from: Guideto Natural Baby Care, by Mindy Pennybackerand Aisha Ikramuddin
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