Poor indoor air quality can be a serious health and comfort issue. Building materials, furnishings and household products like air fresheners can release pollutants on an intermittent basis, while activities like smoking, cleaning, redecorating and hobbies may contribute to their release in more sustained doses.
Long-term exposure to indoor air pollutants has been linked with diseases, such as respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. The good news is there are steps that most people can take to improve the air quality in their home.
1. Install a Purifier
Step one in improving indoor air quality is eliminating sources of pollution. This may involve moving chemical cleaners or paint to your garage for safekeeping; or getting smokers out of the home by getting them to quit smoking themselves or encouraging someone else.
Installing an air purifier is an effective solution, and there are various models to choose from. Some systems integrate seamlessly into your heating and cooling system (whole-house filters), while others can be added room by room. Filters using paper or mesh filters capture pollutants while providing clean air throughout your home.
Some systems include UV lamps to kill bacteria and viruses, helping protect against illness. Other options available to your home may include installing media filters in return air ducts that work like standard HVAC filters but with deeper pleated papers to better catch smaller particles; or allergy-specific units which capture dust mites, pet dander, mold spores or any other allergens that might otherwise escape through regular filters.
2. Change the Air Filter Regularly
Filters that are dirty allow dander, dust and other pollutants into the home and cause irritation – often leading to coughs, runny noses and sneezing symptoms. Therefore it’s especially important if you suffer from allergies or respiratory conditions to change them on a regular basis.
Regularly inspecting the air filter helps you determine when it needs replacing; typically every month; however, if someone in your household suffers from allergies they may require more frequent replacement.
Air ventilation is also crucial, meaning opening windows when weather permits to increase exchange of indoor and outdoor air to dilute pollutants that could otherwise accumulate in your home environment. Supplement this by using an air purifier or keeping humidity levels low to avoid mold growth and other potentially harmful substances from growing inside.
Air pollution and its consequences on health are often discussed, yet few realize the significance of indoor air quality as an environmental hazard. Poor ventilation may trap odors or potentially hazardous pollutants within a house and lower indoor air quality significantly.
Even during winter’s chillier temperatures, opening windows to bring fresh outdoor air in can help improve indoor air quality. Opening door and windows whenever possible in high traffic areas of the home will prevent pollutants from building up inside and increasing their levels.
Running whole house or attic fans on low settings when weather permits can increase the amount of outdoor air that enters the home. Kitchen and bathroom fans that vent outside also help remove contaminants such as nitrogen dioxide produced while cooking, while specific plants, like aloe vera, gerbera daisys, peace lilies, rubber plants and snake planets can improve indoor air quality by altering carbon dioxide levels while simultaneously producing oxygen.
4. Keep Your Furnishings Clean
Poor indoor air quality can have negative impacts both short- and long-term on our bodies, from symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation to headaches and dizziness; over time it could even increase risk for respiratory disease and cancer.
Regularly cleaning surfaces in and around your home as well as vacuuming carpet and floors is key to eliminating allergens that could trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory conditions.
Avoid chemical-filled cleaning products that release volatile organic compounds that irritate the nose and throat, opting for natural cleaners made with baking soda or vinegar instead. In order to safeguard their safety, keep chemicals, paints and other household materials stored safely away in your garage or shed.