Many people believe that air pollution is a phenomenon that we only need to think about when they are outside their homes. This is incorrect; many studies have shown that the air in our homes is often more polluted than the air outside. Indoor air quality or IAQ has gradually become a hot button topic in recent years, and many homeowners are interested in improving their air quality. In this article, we will examine the dangers of poor IAQ and look at some simple solutions.
What are the Dangers of Poor IAQ?
The indoor air in many homes can be polluted from a variety of different sources, such as radon, fire retardants, formaldehyde, dirt, dust mites, mold, pet dander and chemicals used in many off the shelf cleaning products. These pollutants and other allergens are a particular risk for vulnerable groups, such as children, the elderly, people suffering from allergies, and people that have respiratory conditions. If you have poor IAQ, it’s typically individuals in these risk groups that feel the effect first, but anyone can be affected by indoor air pollution. Over time, healthier people may start to develop allergic reactions and respiratory conditions related to their poor IAQ. In many cases, some basic lifestyle changes and routine maintenance can make a big difference in improving the IAQ in your home. Let’s take a look at six ways that you can improve your IAQ today.
- The Importance of Clean Floors
The allergens and chemicals in your home can accumulate in dirt deposits for a long time, but if they are vacuumed away, the contaminant level can be significantly reduced. For the best results, a vacuum with a HEPA filter should be used regularly on floors and other soft furnishing surfaces such as curtains, cushions, rugs, mats, and throws. A HEPA filter will help you to remove many contaminants, such as pollen, chemicals, pet dander, and dust mites. High traffic areas should be vacuumed regularly, and you may want to consider floor mats at each door. These mats will collect contaminants from outside that would otherwise be tracked into the home on shoes. Following up with mopping will help you to catch any dirt, dust, and debris that the vacuum missed. Plain warm water is all you need to clean away allergens or dust from your hard floor surfaces. If you use a microfibre mop, you can catch far more contaminants than a conventional mop can.
- Test Your Home for Radon Pollution
Radon pollution can be an issue in new and older homes, and it’s a particularly nasty pollutant. Radon is a gas, it’s colorless and odorless, and it can increase the risks of developing lung cancer. Radon naturally decays over time, and this releases low levels of radioactivity into the home. Radon pollution can occur in any home, but properties with holes or cracks in the foundations are at an increased risk of exposure. The EPA has a free guide for reducing Radon levels in your home, and testing for Radon is simple, quick and inexpensive.
- Give Up Smoking
Everyone is now aware of the dangers of smoking, but they may not understand how smoking can affect their IAQ. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals that can increase the risk of health conditions, such as cancer, respiratory infections, asthma, and heart related complications. If you’re a smoker and you live at home alone, then you’re accepting these risks, but if you share your home with other that don’t smoke you’re exposing them to the same risks. After all, the treated air in your home is circulated into each room, and this will carry the chemical laden cigarette smoke. If you want to improve your IAQ, quit smoking, or restrict your smoking to outdoors.
- Watch Your Humidity Levels
Many allergens, such as dust mites, viruses, and mold, thrive in a moist environment. So, if you want to keep them at bay, you need to pay close attention to the humidity levels in your home. The ideal humidity should be 30-50%, and a dehumidifier can help you to reduce the moisture levels in your indoor air. Using an exhaust fan or opening a window will also help to reduce the moisture levels. Most modern HVAC systems include a dehumidifier, or you can add one as an option, and they are a good investment. But, it’s crucial to check and empty the drip pans in your AC system or dehumidifier regularly to ensure that they are draining. Over time clogs of dirt can form in the drain lines, this lead to a puddle of water and dirty moisture being recycled into your indoor air. Checking and cleaning drip pans is included in an annual system maintenance visit from your local certified HVAC specialist.
- Install IAQ Products
There are a number of IAQ products that you can add to your HVAC system to improve air quality, such as UV antibacterial lights, electrostatic filters, electronic filters, duct odor eliminators, and whole home humidifiers. The type of IAQ product that would suit your home can vary a great deal, and it makes sense to consult an HVAC professional for expert advice.
- Clean Your Ducts
We need our air ducts to distribute the treated air throughout our homes, and this is how we maintain a consistent and comfortable indoor temperature. If the ducts have been improperly installed or they are in bad shape, there could be cracks and breaks where the treated air can escape. If the ducts are dirty or blocked, they can quickly become a source of contamination for your home, and this will affect the IAQ. Cleaning vents and ducts is possible with a little patience, but you need experience and the right tools to thoroughly clean the ducts where you cannot reach. When the ducts are kept clean, the potential for odors, mold growth and air pollution are significantly reduced. Ask your local certified HVAC specialist about their professional duct cleaning services to improve IAQ, boost performance, and improve energy efficiency.