Improving Air Quality

All homes are susceptible to poor air conditions created by a variety of sources and in some cases, the air we breathe inside can be worse than the air outside!

Pollutants can be released into your home via chemicals and fragrances, tracked in by pets and feet, or can be a byproduct of other conditions such as mold growth when conditions are humid. Here are some tips for many things a home owner can do to improve the quality of the air they breathe.

Cleaning

Not many homeowners look forward to chores, yet regular cleaning is one of the most common steps to maintaining good air quality.

Vacuum

Chemicals and allergens accumulate in household dust. The simplest cleanup method is by using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. HEPA Filters can capture pollutants and ensure dust and allergens do not get blown back out of the vacuum’s exhaust. It is recommended to vacuum two or more times a week. Also, vacuum filters can get clogged! Do not forget to wash or replace your vacuum filter regularly.

Mop

Mopping hard floors will pick up any allergens, dander, and dust left behind by a vacuum. Even mopping with water alone can drastically reduce dust and contaminants.

Humidity

Humidity is one of the greatest contributors to poor indoor air quality. It is important to keep your home’s humidity between 30% and 50%. Mold and dust mites love moisture. If humidity is an issue for you, consider these tips:

  • Use an exhaust fan or open a window when cooking, bathing, and showering.
  • Avoid over-watering house plants.
  • Ensure your clothes drier is vented to the outside of the house.
  • Ensure you have no plumbing leaks or standing water in the house.
  • Consider using a dehumidifier and your air conditioner.

Smoking Indoors

Second hand cigarette smoke is one of the leading contributors to poor indoor air quality. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals and research shows that second hand smoke increases risk for infections, asthma, cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, and respiratory problems. If you must smoke, take it outside.

Radon

Both new and old homes are susceptible to radon. Radon is a radioactive, colorless, odorless gas and is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Radon typically rises up through the ground and enter the house through cracks and holes in the foundation and walls. Even granite countertops can emit small amounts of radon. For more information, please see the EPAs Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction: How to Fix Your Homehttps://www.epa.gov/radon

Naturally Smelling Good

Synthetic fragrances in laundry products and air fresheners emit dozens of different chemicals into the air. Even some plugin air fresheners were found to emit up to 20 different VOCs. Under US Federal Law, these chemicals do not need to be labeled on the product – only the word “fragrance” is required to be listed.

  • Look for and use fragrance free products.
  • Stop using aerosol sprays. Furniture polish, carpet cleaners, deodorants, hair sprays can all contribute to higher VOC levels in the home.

Ventilation

Make use of your homes ventilation when possible. Ventilation helps dilute and remove indoor airborne pollutants generated from indoor sources. Many homes have fans that vent to the outside in the bathroom and kitchen. These fans will remove contaminants in those rooms and expel them to the outside.

Natural ventilation can quickly improve indoor air quality. Opening doors and windows will allow fresh air to replace stagnant, stale air in your home. Exercise caution when outside conditions are less than ideal. Avoid opening windows when pollutants such as smoke or smog are present, or when ozone levels are high.

  • Open windows to allow fresh air in on a nice weather day.
  • Bring the outside in! Plants act as living air purifiers. Plants use CO2 (what we exhale) for photosynthesis and emit fresh oxygen as its byproduct.

Conclusion

There are a LOT of factors to consider that can impact your home’s air quality. Fortunately, there are a lot of simple actions you can take to immediately improve your environment. Monitoring your home’s humidity regularly as well as regular cleaning can do wonders for your indoor air quality.