We are all aware of the dangers of polluted outdoor air, but most people are unaware of the dangers of air pollution inside their own homes. Studies have shown that many homes have an IAQ of 2-5 more than outdoors and the worst examples were more than 100 times more polluted! The first people to notice poor IAQ issues are those with asthma, allergies, and pre-existing respiratory illnesses. In recent years, we have seen an increase in these types of health problems, and more research is needed to establish a link to poor IAQ problems. In this article, we will look at four everyday things that may be lowering the IAQ inside your own home.
1. Indoor Plants
Now, this may seem like a strange thing to mention, and it contradicts a lot of advice on improving the IAQ. It is true that plants in the home can release a lot of oxygen that can really help to improve the IAQ. But, this is not always the case, and some plants may even exacerbate the situation. If you have indoor plants that produce a lot of moisture, they can be very good breeding grounds for mold growth. This is often seen around the plant, or you may even notice a layer on the surface of the soil. This situation can be improved if you monitor your house plants carefully. If you do notice mold growth, clean it off the plant leaves or the soil carefully. This is important because mold spores can spread throughout your home as they get caught up in the air distribution system. The best way to purify the air and prevent the growth and spread of mold spores is to install an air filtration system.
2. Gas Stoves
Cooking with gas is popular, the results are consistent, and for many people, this is the only way to cook. But, gas stoves produce carbon dioxide and particulates that are harmful to health. When you’re cooking in close proximity to a gas stove, the IAQ is lowered significantly, and you suffer long term health consequences. It’s advisable to switch to a different cooking option, but gas enthusiasts may be reluctant to make a change. If you feel like you must cook with gas, make sure the kitchen is well ventilated and limit your exposure as much as possible.
3. Synthetic Flooring Materials
Many homes have vinyl flooring, it’s inexpensive, easy to clean, and anyone can install it next to no time. But, some vinyl floors can release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to health. VOCs are present in many materials because they are in common use in a wide variety of activities, including industrial and agricultural processes. But, constant exposure to these gases inside your home will affect the IAQ and your health over time. The best way to deal with VOCs is to adopt a two pronged approach. Firstly, remove any synthetic flooring materials and other surfaces in your home that generate these harmful gases. Secondly, you can install an air filtration system that can remove VOCs from your indoor air. This will ensure that any VOCs that may enter the home from outside are removed to improve your health. This may seem like a waste of time; after all, if there are VOCs outside, why remove them indoors? The main problem when you inhale contaminants such as VOCs is the exposure time, and we spend a lot of time at home. We are especially vulnerable when we sleep because we breathe air and the contaminants that it may contain deeply into our lungs.
4. Fiberglass Insulation
Fiberglass was once perceived to be a miracle material that could be used for anything from making boat hulls to insulation for buildings. But, we now understand that fiberglass isn’t as great as we imagined, and it’s also a source of VOCs in many homes. As the name suggests, fiberglass is a material composed of tiny fibers of glass that can lower our energy usage by preventing drafts. The main problem with fiberglass is the chemicals used to make it, they can remain airborne for a long time after the installation, and this will lower your IAQ significantly. If you have fiberglass insulation in your home, it may be a good idea to look at alternatives that are kinder to your health and your IAQ.
I Have Bad IAQ. What Can I Do?
If you have a poor level of IAQ in your home, there is no need to suffer. By making the changes, we shown above, you can improve your IAQ significantly. Let’s take a look at four more tips that will help you to make your indoor air healthier:
1. Avoid Smoking Indoors
Smoking is bad for your health period. But, if you can’t kick the habit, it’s a better idea to smoke outdoors. This may seem annoying, but it will improve the IAQ, and you won’t be exposing other people to secondary smoke, which can cause health problems. When you smoke outdoors, you can also reduce the stains and odors that accompany smoking which makes cleaning easier too.
2. Indoor Plants
Now, this may seem like contrary advice to the information we presented on house plants earlier. But, there are some plants that are better suited to improving the air than others, such as English Ivy, Aloe, and Snake plants. These three plant varieties can generate a great deal of oxygen to improve the air, they are less susceptible to mold, and they are easy to care for.
3. Regular Pet Grooming
Pet hair is one of the most common causes of lower IAQ, and it’s easy to avoid this problem with more regular grooming.
4. Changing Air Filter
The air filter in your HVAC system should be changed regularly, and you can find recommendations in your owner’s manual. If you have pets, you may want to change the air filters more frequently because they can become clogged with pet dander. If an air filter is clogged, the IAQ will suffer, but the reduction in airflow can also over stress the equipment leading to an expensive repair bill.
If you want to improve your IAQ, contact your local certified HVAC specialist today.