What can we do to avoid being affected by these indoor pollutants?
Avoid smoking indoors, don't let dust build up, don't leave the car running in an attached garage, and be wary of all fumes – if it smells bad it probably is!
Vent heating and cooking appliances to the outdoors via a chimney, flue, rangehood or exhaust fan where ever possible. These flues and chimneys need regular cleaning as do any permanent ventilation openings. Unvented mobile gas heaters are considered by some researchers to pose a health risk and have been associated with more frequent respiratory symptoms. Check the heater flue or ventilators in the wall or roof space to ensure nothing is obstructing them.
Service heating or cooking appliances regularly to ensure they are working properly as they can be a big culprit for leaking gases into your home. Do not use gas cookers/ovens to heat a room.
Clean exhaust fans, range hoods, air-conditioners, heaters and fireplaces regularly.
Always follow the instructions of appliance manufacture and seek advice from the manufacturer, supplier or your gasfitter/plumber if you have any concerns. Never use an appliance if it is not working properly or is damaged.
Ensure doors connecting garages to the house are tightly sealed.
Do not use camp stoves or barbeques indoors.
Make sure the home's design keeps moisture to a minimum and has easy to clean and washable surfaces and natural fabrics -- look for low-emission labels.
Instead of using chemicals to deter termites, use specially designed physical barriers, like mesh or crushed rock.
Use a water-filtered vacuum cleaner like Delphin to clean your floors, carpets, blinds and furnishings.
Install security products that allow you to feel secure while keeping doors and windows open for air exchange.
When renovating, beware of old materials containing lead and asbestos and old dust build up. Have it checked by a professional and wear safety masks.
Look for building products that are pre-dried in the factory or are 'quick-drying'.
New carpet should be unrolled in a well-ventilated area to air for several days before it is delivered and installed. Ask about whether the carpets are fixed with adhesives as they may contain VOCs; ask about alternatives to adhesives.
Use surface coating products like varnishes and paints, that are water based or classed as containing zero or low levels of VOCs.
Always seek advice from the supplier or manufacturer, particularly if the information displayed on the container or label is not clear -- ask for the product's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS); you are entitled to have it.
When adding new furnishings or resurfacing walls and floors, ensure rooms are fully ventilated until the fumes or odor disappears or is at least reduced considerably.
Leave shoes at the door as they can bring in pollutants like lead and other chemicals from the outside.
Never burn chemically treated wood, indoors or out. This includes painted or varnished wood.
Most modern furniture can off-gas formaldehyde for many years if made wholly or partly from particleboard, plywood or medium-density fibreboard (MDF). Look for low-emission products when making purchase decisions.
Always evaluate whether your home is smelly or stuffy. The easiest way is to go outside for a few minutes and then come back inside and have a sniff.
Add houseplants to your home as they may help keep the air in your home cleaner, but do not over-water because wet soil may promote growth of microorganisms. Regularly hose them or put them in the rain to wash dust off the leaves and rejuvenate them, and let them drain fully before bringing them back in.