Indoor air quality - how to protect your home and your family

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(ARA) - It's a surprising statistic, but data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air, including the air in your home. With the average American spending as much as 90 percent of their lives indoors, taking relatively easy steps to improve air quality should be a priority.

"Using a well-engineered vacuum, which precludes harmful particles from launching into the air, is a matter of health and hygiene," explains Susan Goldsmith, managing director at IBR (Interbasic Resources), a nationally recognized independent testing laboratory which conducts emissions tests on various brands of vacuum cleaners.

Even more surprising is what actually causes the deterioration of a home's air quality. Common pollutants include furnaces, fireplaces, gas stoves and even your vacuum cleaner. Unless you take the proper precautions, dangerous pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particles are left accumulating in your home. According to the EPA and the Sierra Club, exposure to these pollutants and numerous others is a major source of health problems. The good news is you can dramatically improve indoor air quality with simple actions. By making the effort to improve your home's air quality, you can protect your health.

To get started, implement these tips in your own home.

* Do a full clean sweep. Dust hard surfaces regularly, launder bedding and towels frequently and go beyond the carpet when vacuuming. Drapes and other window treatments, as well as your furniture, also need habitual cleaning to prevent the collection of polluting particles.

* Make sure your cleaning tools are helping, not hurting. It might not seem to make sense that a vacuum could worsen your home's air quality, but in many cases, that's the truth. The structural design and filtration of the vacuum are essential to ensuring cleaner air. Without proper filtration or a "sealed system" design, the vacuum can emit dangerous carbon particles into the air. Even HEPA-filtered bagless vacuums can emit over 175,900 lung-damaging particles per minute. Vacuum models offered by Miele are among the best options for ultra-clean in-home air because they feature AirClean FilterBags and the AirClean Sealed System, which together will capture and retain harmful particulates and eliminate the possibility of virtually anything escaping from the machine.

* Keep pets and their toys and accessories clean. If you have a four-legged friend sharing your space, it's important for your comfort and health to keep its spaces and belongings clean and hygienic. Bathe your pet as necessary, but keep in mind that over-bathing or using human shampoo can dry out a dog or cat's skin, causing excess dander. You should also vacuum and launder pet beds and toys regularly to keep them fresh and safe. Also look for vacuums that have been specially designed to reduce pet odors and effectively clean pet hair.

Keeping your home clean and free of air pollutants will provide you with a comfortable environment and peace of mind. For more information, visit