How’s Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality? (Hint: Probably Not Good!)
Bloggers, journalists, and environmentalists love to talk about air pollution and how it’s affecting our cities and suburban landscapes. And while outdoor pollution is certainly a big hot button issue, we often face bigger problems inside.
The Problem With Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality simply refers to the quality of the air that circulates inside of a house, school, office building, or other enclosed environment. Because Americans spend most of their daily time indoors, where concentrations of certain pollutants and chemicals are far greater than outdoor concentrations, it’s a significant public health issue that needs to be addressed with greater urgency.
Over the last couple of decades, researchers have discovered that indoor concentrations of certain pollutants have dramatically increased as the result of more energy-efficient construction and the use of new synthetic building materials and home furnishing products. Some of the common pollutants and sources include:
- Pet dander
- Mold and mildew
- Tobacco smoke
- Carbon monoxide
- Particulate matter
- Lead and asbestos
- Various volatile organic compounds
When you combine the presence of these pollutants with significant improvements in construction, it’s a recipe for disaster.
“The air exchange rate with the outdoors is an important factor in determining indoor air pollutant concentrations,” EPA.gov explains. “The air exchange rate is affected by the design, construction, and operating parameters of buildings and is ultimately a function of infiltration (air that flows into structures through openings, joints, and cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings and around windows and doors), natural ventilation (air that flows through opened windows and doors), and mechanical ventilation (air that is forced indoors or vented outdoors by ventilation devices, such as fans or air handling systems).”
When ignored, poor indoor air quality can lead to a number of short- and long-term health issues. This may include everything from simple allergies and headaches to respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer.
4 Ways to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
It’s not always easy to tell if your home’s indoor air quality is bad. Many pollutants have no smell, which makes them fairly difficult to detect. However, there are some proactive steps you can take to diminish the presence of irritating indoor pollutants and elevate the quality of air your family breathes. Take a look:
1.Keep Your House Clean
Keeping your house clean isn’t just about making sure your home looks visibly spotless. It’s equally important that you eliminate pollutants, chemicals, toxins, and germs that negatively impact air quality. This means going above and beyond in your cleaning efforts.
All surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. This includes counters, furniture, and floors. When it comes to the latter, frequent vacuuming is very important.
“Chemicals and allergens can accumulate in household dust for decades,” WebMD explains. “By using a vacuum with a HEPA filter you can reduce concentrations of lead in your home. You can also get rid of other toxins, like brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) as well as allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.”
2. Change Out Air Filters
Your home’s HVAC system is designed to keep you comfortable all year round. It can also improve air quality by keeping air circulating on a regular basis. But in order for your HVAC system to work for you, you need to clean/swap out air filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This ensures you’re breathing in clean, high-quality air that’s free of pollutants.
3. Install an Air Purification System
If members of your household have respiratory issues and/or allergies, it may be wroth investing in an air cleaner or purification system to promote better indoor air quality at all times. Products like the Healthy Climate Carbon Clean 16 Media Air Cleaner, when properly installed, can remove over 95 percent of particles ranging in size down to 0.3 micron.
4. Keep Pets Outside
As much as you love your family’s furry little friends, pet hair and dander are terrible for your home’s indoor air quality. Keeping pets outside – or at least confined to certain isolated spaces within the home – will lessen the negative impact they have on the air you breathe.
Take Back Your House
Few things are as important to your health as the air you breathe. By addressing indoor air pollution inside your home, you can create a cleaner, safer, and more inviting environment for the entire family. Which tips and improvements will you implement?