Upstate New Yorkers spend between 20 and 22 hours inside every day. In this edition of Healthy Living, Katie Gibas explains the importance of indoor air quality.
"It's a really important issue that's probably not paid enough attention to," said Dr. Michael Lax, the director of Upstate Occupational Health Clinical Center Medical Director.
He's referring to indoor air quality.
"Most times, people aren't really aware of their indoor air quality," said Greg Siwinski, a Certified Industrial Hygienist.
Lax said, "They think of a steel mill or a factory with all the fumes and things like that, but the reality is that schools and offices and hospitals are all indoor environments that can have pretty significant exposures that can have an impact on people's health. The same thing is true at home."
A lot of things pollute your indoor air, including carbon monoxide, mold, radon, pesticides, cleaning products, and even spray foam insulation if not done properly. All of them can cause allergic reactions, asthma, or even have long-term consequences.
As homes and offices become more energy efficient, they also become more unhealthy.
"Insulation, windows, etecetera that tend to conserve energy will make the building tighter and will tend to allow things to build up more," said Lax.
Experts recommend making sure you properly vent your house, fix water leakage, and monitor humidity. Use dehumidifiers in the basement to prevent mold growth, and set steam humidifiers in the rest of the house at 20 percent to 60 percent humidity. It's also important to use smart cleaning products.
"When people first see mold growing, the first thing they run for is bleach. And we've backed off on that recommendation because bleach can be a hazard in itself. There's a labeling system called a green seal. That's something to look for. I tell people, remember what our grandparents said. Keep it simple. Dilute vinegar or use baking soda in water," suggested Siwinski.
If you want to buy an air purifier, make sure it has HEPA filter and change those filters regularly. Even though it might be cold out, experts say it's a good idea to open window to let some fresh air in and pollutants out.