Most folks don't think much about the air inside their homes. But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality often can be worse than the air outside. The EPA pegged indoor air pollution among the top five environmental health risks.
February is National Care About Your Indoor Air Month. Among the sources of bad indoor air: dust, wet or damp carpet, pressed-wood products, cleaning products, animal dander or fur, pollen, gas stoves and pesticides.
This air not only smells funny, but can be bad for your health. Such indoor pollution can aggravate half of all illnesses, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Duct cleaning can improve air quality in your home tremendously, say experts. In particular, less dust, mold and other pollutants help people with allergies and asthma breathe easier.
Jim Anderberg, general manager of Sacramento's Beutler Air Conditioning and Plumbing, offers these tips for cleaning up your indoor air:
Regularly change your filters on your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
Mold is common in HVAC vents. Excessive moisture or humidity creates ideal breeding ground for mold spores. Those sources of water, combined with collections of dust and dirt within ductwork, are problem spots and should be dealt with as soon as possible.
Whole-house air cleaners, which can be easily installed by an HVAC professional, can help reduce the ill effects of indoor air pollutants.
Install a UV light air cleaner. It can help disinfect your home and protect your family from poor air quality, Anderberg said. The light air cleaner destroys microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi in your HVAC system.
Get your HVAC system a checkup. Regular maintenance will cut pollutants and help the system operate more efficiently, saving money, too.
For more tips, click on www.beutler.com.
Time to fertilize and prepare plants for spring growth.
Feed fruit trees before flowers open. Use a a fertilizer specifically labeled for fruit trees.
Feed other mature trees and shrubs as spring growth appears.
Feed strawberries and asparagus, two perennials from the vegetable garden that will soon hit high gear.
Feed spring-blooming flowers and established perennials.
Check for aphids on new growth. Knock them off with a strong spray of water or a squirt of insecticidal soap.
Look out for snails and slugs. Hand-pick them off plants an hour after nightfall.
Plant seed for beets, Swiss chard, collards, endive, fennel, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, peas, radicchio, radish and turnips.
Transplant seedlings for broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce and leeks.
Indoors, start tomatoes, eggplant and peppers from seed. They'll be ready to transplant outdoors when weather warms in late April or May.
In the flower garden, plant seed for baby's breath, calendula, California poppy, cornflower, forget-me-not, larkspur, nasturtium, nicotiana and snapdragon.