Car exhaust. Smog. Industrial pollutants. Pollen. Sometimes, the air in the great outdoors doesn't sound all that friendly. If you hear about pollution and think you're better off just breathing in the air in your house, you're not alone. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception. As it turns out, indoor air is sometimes even more polluted than that which you breathe outdoors.

Major Public Health Risk

The average American spends 90 percent of his or her time inside, according to the EPA. That's a lot of hours spent inhaling HVAC emissions, fireplace particles, mold spores, dust mites and other irritants that can lurk inside your home. These nasties may inhibit breathing, aggravate asthma and cause other health problems.

Nevertheless, a full 50 percent of Americans believe that the air in their homes is less polluted than outdoor air, according to a survey conducted by 3M. Unfortunately, the belief is inaccurate: Indoor air can actually be two to five times more polluted than what you breathe outside, the EPA reports, and is one of the top five environmental risks to public health.

Protect Your Family's Health

There are simple steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality. The 3M survey found that 39 percent of parents don't consider changing the filters on their HVAC equipment to be an important part of keeping their children healthy. Only 43 percent of people change filters four times annually, as recommended. And only 23 percent of people change their air filters before having guests stay over.

In order to protect your indoor air quality, make sure that you:

  • Change your HVAC filters. The EPA recommends swapping them out every three months, whether they look dirty or not.
  • Have your HVAC equipment serviced regularly so it performs at peak condition.
  • Get your ducts cleaned out every 3-5 years to prevent the buildup of dust and particles.
  • Install a ventilator or air filter to swap out stale polluted air and replace it with filtered air from the outdoors.
  • Vacuum and dust regularly to keep dirt, pet dander, and dust mites at bay.

If you are concerned about your indoor air quality, have an HVAC expert conduct an audit to identify places where you are polluting your home. A trusted professional can help you figure out what steps to take to correct any problems so you can finally breathe easy knowing you and your children have access to clean, fresh air.

Contact local One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® for more information on improving and protecting your indoor air quality.