Cooped Up Because of Coronavirus? Keep the Air Fresh

With the spread of the novel coronavirus, suddenly you and your family are probably hunkered down indoors for most of the day, while also washing your hands and wiping down surfaces to stave off the spread of the virus in your household.

Throw in the fact that your windows are closed because it’s still cold in many parts of the country, and you’ve got a combination of factors that can have a direct negative effect on the air quality in your home: frequent use of toxic chemicals and no way for them to escape.

Poor indoor air quality can lead to respiratory irritation, skin irritation, rashes and even asthma, which afflicts one in 10 kids and is one of the risk factors for significant complications from the COVID-19 virus.

There are other factors that contribute to lower quality of air indoors, but one of the big ones is the chemicals in many cleaning products, including disinfectants.

This is the time when putting your family’s health first may mean bringing out harsher disinfectants. But there are still steps you can take to improve the air quality in your home. 

To keep the air clean indoors:

  • Open the windows. Indoor air is typically not as clean as the air outdoors. The simplest way to minimize the impact of toxic chemicals in cleaners is to open the windows and let fresh air in.
  • Keep the kids away. As much as possible, clean while the kids are out of the house for a walk in the neighborhood, or in another room. While you’re cleaning, it’s also a good idea to turn on exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom to exchange air.
  • Use “clean” cleaners whenever possible. You may not have lots of options when it comes to disinfectants, but whenever possible, buy the one with the least toxic chemicals. (Make sure to consult the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of disinfectants that can combat the coronavirus.)
  • Use the least toxic product necessary. If a household member contracts COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, you’ll need to take more elaborate precautions than if you’re simply trying to all stay healthy. (Here is guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on cleaning and disinfecting to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.)
  • Minimize use of other air pollutants. This is a good time to cut back on the products you may use that emit chemicals that aren’t necessary to preventing the spread of the virus, including nail polish, fragrance, oven cleaners, air fresheners and other spray products. Check EWG’s Guide To Healthy Cleaning to find the household cleaning products with fewer toxic chemicals, including the first EWG VERIFIED™ cleaner.
  • Inspect your air filter. Even without the threat of a virus, an air filter is a good way to boost indoor air quality. Use the highest-rated filter your central air system can handle and make sure it is installed and maintained properly. If your home doesn’t have central air, consider a portable air filter certified by California’s Air Resources Board. It typically won’t remove cleaning fumes but it will remove particles.

Please consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. This material is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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