Never has clean air been more important to obtain in your home than it is now during this pandemic. We know there are pollutants outside in the air, water, and in the ground but we rarely really stop to think about the harmful pollutants that are found in our very own homes. Breathing quality indoor air is essential for one’s health considering we spend the majority of our time indoors – whether at home, at the office, in stores, restaurants, and various other buildings. Though we personally cannot control the air quality in buildings we visit, we can control and ensure the air quality in our homes. We see that clean air that is circulated through a house can prevent many health hazards which affect more than 25 million people a year.
One infamous and common household toxin is combustion pollutant. Most pollutants are odorless, and are therefore, can be more difficult to pinpoint the source. This gas is a combination of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide and its sources are vast. Combustion pollutants can come from any improperly vented fuel-burning appliances which include but are not limited to: gas stoves, water heaters, fireplaces, dryers, and space heaters.
Another indoor air pollutant is radon that can enter homes through improperly sealed openings and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Typical, everyday use, household items could also lead to air pollution. Many dangerous chemicals used in hairsprays, paints, floor polishes, air fresheners, and pesticides, could produce excessive amounts of pollutant.
These toxins can cause respiratory problems such as asthma, headaches, sore throats, eye irritation, colds, and chronic coughs. Many do not realize that these issues can be cause by indoor air pollution and could cause long term damage if the problems are not resolved and if air quality is not improved.
Luckily, there are methods you can implement in your home to better your air quality. First would be to improve your in-home air quality by cleaning out your ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Not only will this lower the levels of contaminants, it will also help to control indoor temperatures. Many new and advanced HVAC systems include mechanics that bring fresh outdoor air, in on an automated time basis. Some designs also include energy efficient heat recovery ventilators which help reduce the cost of cooling and heating during the summer and winter months.
You can also promote good air quality through natural ventilation by opening windows and doors and letting the outdoor air flow throughout your home.
Below are some simple ways in which you can help alleviate symptoms and health problems pollutants may cause:
- Keep out the dirt. Place mats at every door to wipe your shoes given that you could be dragging pollutants inside your home. Either take your shoes off before you enter your house or make sure you are thoroughly wiping your shoes before entering.
- Vacuum it up. Make sure all rugs and carpets within your home are cleaned or vacuumed often since carpet is known to capture traces of dirt, pesticides, and various other pollutants. Try microfiber mops and dust cloths to trap dust because they do not require any chemically induced cleaning solutions.
- Go natural. Consider changing up your household cleans to more natural cleaners with safer ingredients that do not use artificial fragrances. Synthetic fragrances omit chemicals into the air and are found in household dryer sheets, air fresheners, detergents, and fabric softeners and can cause skin irritation and give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many of these fragrances are a result of petroleum products and contain phthalates which are a group of chemicals not suited for human or animal inhalation. Think about switching to fragrance-free laundry products and cleaners as well as using baking soda and citrus in place of air fresheners.
- Make it steamy! According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), keeping your home’s humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent will help reduce the growth of mold, dust mites, and other allergens. Anything over 50% humidity and you also run into the issue of musky odors, stains on walls and ceilings, as well as rot and structural damage. Low levels of humidity on the other hand can cause dry skin, hair and eyes, susceptibility to colds and various respiratory illness, furniture can start to crack, paint could chip, and viruses and germs could start to thrive. To prevent a potential health hazard from occurring in your own home, invest in a dehumidifier or use your air conditioner to reduce moisture in the air and keep cool air circulating in your home. Be sure to change your air conditioner’s filter often to ensure cleanliness.
Clean, indoor air is crucial for a healthy home. These are only a few of the steps in which you can take to improve the air you breathe. The benefits of implementing these far exceed the cost and effort of reducing pollutants in your home.