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Winter Air Quality and your Home

By Christopher King

Step back and take a deep breath. Feels great, doesn't it? With the winter season well upon us, it is time to stop and think about the quality of the air you are breathing. Air quality issues do not get the same attention in the winter months as they might in the summer, but that does not mean that they do not exist. In fact, a number of studies have shown that indoor air quality is often worse in the winter.

This happens for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is the fact that we spend so much time indoors in the winter. During the summer time, most people open all of their doors and windows to increase the flow of fresh air into their home. In the winter, we are all so preoccupied with staying warm that fresh air is often an afterthought. There are a number of good reasons to air out your home, even in the freezing winter months.

A lot of people purchase new home furnishings in the winter, to improve on the level of comfort in their homes. This can be problematic, especially in the case of new carpeting and upholstery. A great majority of the carpets and upholstery on the market emit toxic substances known as volatile organic compounds, which are a by-product of the manufacturing process. Volatile organic compounds are a suspected cause of eye, nose, and throat irritations, headaches, skin irritations, breathing difficulties, and fatigue. If you must install new carpet, have the work done in the summer"when you are on vacation.

Along with new furnishings, people often try to take advantage of the time they are spending indoors by repainting the interior of their home. This, too, can be a significant source of indoor pollution. If you are considering some winter redecorating, try to find a quality paint that does not contain volatile organic compounds. Otherwise, it might be prudent to wait until the summer comes. In the case of VOC's, opening the windows in your home will not reduce the impact these chemicals can have on your health. These chemicals are often emitted at very low levels, for a very long time.

There are countless people who love nothing more than to curl up in front of a roaring fireplace to stay warm and cozy during the colder months. Fireplaces and woodstoves can have a detrimental impact on the air quality in your home. Your furnace, wood stove, and/or fireplace should be properly maintained and serviced annually. When they are not functioning properly, fireplaces can be a source of poisonous carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Play it safe, and be sure to maintain your appliances annually. Your health and wellbeing may depend on it.

About The Author

Christopher King is an environmental consultant and a member of Greenpeace. When he is not trying to save the whales from the humans, he is trying to save the humans from themselves. In his spare time, Chris writes for - an excellent source of information about hepa purifiers(, ionizers(, electronic air cleaners( and more.


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