Did you know that the average American spends 90% of his or her time indoors, but that many studies have indicated that indoor air quality is generally poor? In fact, indoor air is two to five times more heavily polluted than outdoor air.
Poor indoor air can cause and aggravate several health conditions, so finding a way to purify indoor air is important for your overall health. The populations who are most at risk from indoor pollutants are children, the elderly, and the chronically ill because their lungs aren’t as sturdy as other groups.
In this article, we’ll examine some of the causes of indoor pollution and share some affordable ways to improve your home’s indoor air quality.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Historically, a major source of indoor air pollution was soot produced by the fuels that we burned to heat our homes. Although most US homes no longer rely on wood or coal for heat, many still burn wood for warmth and ambiance in the winter. Even scented candles add measurable soot to a home’s air.
Many other sources of pollution are a byproduct of ordinary life. For example, cooking adds smoke and oil particles to your home’s air, especially if your stove does not have a vented hood. The scented room sprays, perfumes, and hairsprays that we use every day can linger in the air and irritate sensitive respiratory systems. Indoor tobacco use is another significant contributor to poor air quality.
Symptoms of Poor Air Quality
Persistent itchy, watery eyes, irritation in your nose and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue are all signs that you’ve been breathing polluted air. Poor air quality can also aggravate existing conditions like allergies, asthma, and respiratory diseases.
How can you tell if your symptoms are the results of your home’s air? If your irritation seems to wane when you’re away from home and return when you come back, it could be due to your air quality.
How to Improve Air Quality
There are several steps that you can take to improve your indoor air quality, many of which are entirely free.
1. Eliminate Pollutants
An excellent place to begin your clean air journey is to end behaviors that add toxins to the air. If you smoke inside, commit to smoking only outdoors. Dust and vacuum regularly. Choose LED candles over flame candles. Use gentle household cleaners rather than those with potent, toxic chemicals.
Instead of covering bad odors with scented candles or spray, track down the source and take it outside. If the weather is particularly windy, if you’re grilling, or if someone nearby is having a backyard bonfire, close your windows to keep the pollutants out.
When you shower, run the overhead fan to reduce moisture and prevent mold and mildew growth. Lastly, don’t idle your car in an attached garage, as the fumes can seep into your home.
2. Ventilate Your Home
Since outdoor air contains fewer pollutants than indoor air, an easy (and free!) way to reduce contaminants in your home is to ventilate with fresh outdoor air. When the weather permits, bring in as much fresh air as possible.
Open a window in your kitchen when you cook if your stove does not have a vented hood. If you’re painting, cleaning, sanding, or doing any other periodic activity that puts scents and particulates in the air, open your windows and doors.
3. Purify Your Air
Air purification is, essentially, a process of drawing contaminants out of your air. One effective way to do this is by changing your HVAC filter regularly. The frequency at which you change it depends on several factors, such as your home and family size, whether you have pets, and whether you have allergy-sufferers in your home.
A second strategy for purifying the air is to install an air purification system, either a whole-home or portable unit. Air purifiers draw particles, allergens, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, bacteria, and other contaminants out of the air. The most effective units will have high air circulation and an efficient collector to purify the maximum amount of air. We recommend whole-home air purifiers from Aprilaire.
4. Manage Your Humidity
Homes that are too humid can produce mold, mildew, and attract dust mites. Your home’s humidity should not be above 50%. Homes in cold climates may need to keep their humidity under 40% to prevent condensation on windows and walls. If you’re struggling to keep your home’s humidity down, consider running a dehumidifier.
However, homes that are too dry can aggravate respiratory infections, allergies, and asthma. Using a humidifier to maintain a healthy level of humidity can also help keep hardwood floors, cabinetry, and wooden furniture in good shape. If your home is too dry, you should run a humidifier.
Balancing your home’s humidity takes patience and may need adjustment as the seasons change.
Improve Your Indoor Air Quality with Guin
Guin Service is passionate about providing ways for people to breathe clean air. Partner with Guin to assess your home’s air quality and choose a solution tailored to your family’s unique needs. With over 50 years of experience, Guin professionals can install high-quality indoor air products in your home that will improve your family’s health.