Source Control

Eliminating or reducing the sources of air pollution is the best way to improve indoor air quality.

The most effective approach to improve indoor air quality is source control. Source control means first trying to eliminate, then reduce the sources of pollution indoors. This approach effectively reduces exposure to pollutants by eliminating or reducing their presence indoors.

Step 1: Eliminate

The best way to avoid exposure to harmful pollutants is by making sure they don’t get indoors. If they’re not there, they can’t cause any harm. Some ways to eliminate pollutants in the home include:

  • Avoid burning indoors: fires, candles and incense can release pollutants into the air.
  • Do not use kerosene heaters, camp stoves or other unvented fuel-burning appliances indoors as they can emit toxic gases.
  • Go fragrance-free: air fresheners and other strongly scented products can contain VOCs and other harmful chemicals.
  • Don’t smoke or vape indoors: smoke from tobacco and aerosols from vape products emit many harmful pollutants into the air.
  • Opt for building materials and furnishings that do not contain formaldehyde.

Step 2: Reduce and Manage

Sometimes you can’t eliminate pollutants entirely. In that case, take steps to reduce exposure and manage the pollution source to reduce risk of harm. Examples of how to reduce and manage indoor pollution:

  • Keep pets off furniture and beds, especially off those with an allergy.
  • Use dust mite mattress and pillow encasements for individuals with an allergy to dust mites.
  • Install an EPA-certified woodstove if that is your only source of heat.
  • Vacuum with a HEPA vacuum at least weekly to reduce dust and other pollutants from your carpets and rugs.
  • If using products containing chemicals or VOCs, open doors and windows to improve ventilation, use when people are not around and follow instructions on the label.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms during bathing and in the kitchen when cooking.

For more tips on how to control specific pollutants indoors, visit the What Makes Indoor Air Unhealthy pages.

Page last updated: November 14, 2023

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