Do you know that indoor air can be up to 5 times dirtier and up to 10 times more toxic than outdoor air? The lack of airflow indoors causes potential pollutants to build up more than open spaces.
Even short exposure to indoor air pollution can negatively affect your health: dry eyes, bad sleep, headaches, and fatigue might be caused by your home's poor air quality. Even if you spend most of the time in the office or somewhere outside, your home is the place you come back to sleep and rest. Here we provide some advice on how to keep the air clean at home, so you can recharge yourself in a comfortable environment.
- Clean the air ducts in your house if they are clogged or you notice mold growing inside the ductwork. It’s important to get all the components of your heating or cooling system cleaned. If some mold spores are left, re-infestation is inevitable.
- If you face mold recontamination repeatedly, check if your air ducts are insulated properly and that there is no condensation. Clean and dry the drip pans every week to prevent the growth of mold colonies.
- Change your filters regularly. In summer when air conditioning is on most of the time or in case you have several pets, changing air filters once a month is a good call.
- If you use a fuel burning furnace, wood stove or fireplace, get them inspected for proper functioning yearly at the start of the heating season to protect against combustion pollutants and especially carbon monoxide.
- Replace your wood stove with gas, oil or electric heat which will reduce your exposure to wood smoke. Or you can go for EPA-certified wood stoves that meet particulate emission limits of no more than 2.5 grams per hour starting from 2020.
- Beware of fragranced products such as laundry detergents, scented soaps, and cleaning products. They emit a wide range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that have adverse health effects. For example, one study analyzed 37 consumer products and identified 156 different volatile organic compounds among their ingredients. 42 chemicals were classified as toxic or hazardous.
- Avoid air fresheners. Air fresheners emit VOCs and are associated with high indoor levels of terpenes, benzene, and toluene. Moreover, these emissions can travel outside and contribute to the formation of smog. You can make your own air freshener with organic essential oils or go for other natural alternatives such as dried herbs or simmering your own aroma with cinnamon and other spices.
- Remove lead paint and asbestos from your home. If your house was constructed before the 1970 and 1980 respectively you may encounter these hazards in your building.
- Get a “True HEPA” air purifier. HEPA filters capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns and they are an effective instrument in filtering out mold, dust, pollen, and other air pollutants. This type of filter should be replaced every month or two to work efficiently.
- Monitor the air quality. Another good investment in your health is to get an air quality monitor. It is important to recognize potential threats in the air immediately so you can take the necessary measures before they affect you.