If you want to improve the quality of your life, try enhancing the air quality of your living space. A clean airflow free of dust, dirt, and mold spores is important in facilitating easier breathing. Breathing well is something that most of us usually take for granted until we get sick and struggle to breathe. Besides that, good air quality helps promote better sleep by allowing you to rest easy and minimizing your chances of getting sick. Some enjoy additional benefits such as reduced utility bills, but eliminating odors and removing allergens and pollutants are also important.
However, not all of us have the chance of enjoying fresh air due to pollutants. Indoor air pollution involves the accumulation of toxic and unwanted gases, dirt, and dust in indoor spaces. This could be your home, workspace, or a public space. Indoor air pollution involves physical, biological, and chemical factors that may eventually result in adverse side effects. To help you understand the most common indoor air pollutants and how you can improve the quality of air, keep on reading.
What are the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants?
There is a wide range of indoor air pollutants. They trigger different side effects by degrading air quality, including health issues. According to EPA, there are approximately 13 common pollutants that may negatively affect indoor air quality. They are found in combustion byproducts, VOCs, legacy pollutants, and biological pollutants. They include:
- nitrogen dioxide
- carbon monoxide
- biological pollutants
- cookstoves and heaters
- volatile organic compounds
How Pets Contribute to Indoor Air Pollution
Your chances of experiencing degraded air quality are higher if you have a pet. This is because most pets that human beings keep are furry animals with fur that may carry allergens, dust, and dirt. These furry friends usually lead to dander and enhance the release of allergens, affecting your indoor air quality and overall health.
5 Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are several ways to improve the air quality inside your home. While some are simple with zero costs involved, some require the use or purchase of equipment. To facilitate the free flow of air and reduce the level of indoor humidity, here are the five most effective tips for applying:
1. Open Windows
This is the first sensible thing that you should always do. You will invest in much equipment that helps to enhance indoor air quality. But nothing beats open windows in creating a natural environment with good air quality that promotes improved health.
Open windows help to improve air circulation by facilitating the removal of hot, stuffy, and toxic air outside and enhancing the flow of fresh and oxygen-rich air inside. You’re probably thinking that opening windows during the winter season might not be ideal for you. Don’t get confused since fresh airflow is important during all seasons!
You need to open your windows for just a few minutes during the cold winter seasons. You are probably trying to stay warm and save money by keeping your indoor space well-insulated. However, with time, an enclosed environment gets filled with stuffy air, which usually creates a humid environment that attracts dust mites.
On the other hand, the introduction of oxygen helps to eliminate dust particles and other nasty compounds. Besides that, open windows reduce the level of humidity that would otherwise cause dust mites to thrive.
2. Use an Air Filter/ Cleaner
The main job of an air filter is to create a well-balanced natural environment that’s free of air pollutants. Air filters come in a wide range of sizes and design types. Air filters remove pollutants, including dust particles and mold spores, from the air. People use it to improve indoor air quality, which consequentially results in benefits such as:
- Reducing the risk of airborne diseases such as flu and colds
- Improving the smell of your indoor space by neutralizing stubborn scents
- Enhancing the lifespan of your AC unit by minimizing the level of strain in its operation
- Relieving allergic conditions caused by pet dander, dust mites, and seasonal pollen
- Easing symptoms of asthma
Despite the air filter effectively purifying indoor air, ensure that you change your filters regularly to ensure that airborne irritants don’t get recirculated in your home. Besides that, check their filters in household appliances such as clothes dryers and vacuum cleaners. Ensure that you periodically inspect and maintain them. If possible, replace these filters after a few months.
3. Regulate Indoor Humidity
Generally, moist indoor conditions are perfect breeding grounds for mildew and mold. This can easily trigger the development of respiratory issues such as asthma, sleep interruptions, and allergy flare-ups. Besides that, the condensation it usually creates in walls can lead to structural damage and rot that can worsen the quality of your indoor space.
It’s worth noting that the summer months usually bring out humid conditions. The ideal humidity range in an indoor setting should be 30-50%. To improve the quality of your indoor space, regulate humidity in the following ways:
- Use an air conditioner: it helps to naturally regulate humidity by removing warm, humid air and bringing in cold, cooler air.
- Use your ventilation/exhaust fans: whether you are cooking over a stove or showering, always make sure to use your ventilation fans. Additionally, you can leave running for a few minutes after completing your activities to ensure that the indoor air is well-circulated and humidity is reduced.
- Fix leaking pipes: they are among the biggest sources of indoor humidity. Leaking faucets and pipes usually result in condensation, wet spots that encourage the growth of mold spores and increase water bills.
- Clean your gutters: damaged gutters can result in serious water leaks, especially during heavy rains. If you want to create an indoor environment with high air quality, remove dirt and debris from your gutters.
- Take cooler showers: it’s always tempting to take hot showers, especially during cold seasons. However, hot showers directly translate to humid air, reducing air quality in general. Lower your usually bathing temperature by a couple of degrees so that you can enjoy warm baths without creating a highly humid environment.
4. Get Houseplants
One of the best ways to naturally improve indoor air quality is getting houseplants. Through photosynthesis, these plants convert CO2 that we exhale into fresh oxygen that we need. Besides that, plants can effectively remove toxins from the air we breathe. Research studies have established that plants usually scrub toxic and volatile compounds such as benzene and formaldehyde that cause cancer. Generally, plants reduce the levels of indoor air pollution by constantly supplying you with the much-needed oxygen while taking the harmful CO2. Some of the best houseplants that you can get include:
- Aloe vera
- English ivy
- Snake plant
- Broad lady palm
However, you should avoid flowering houseplants with strong scents if you have suffered from an allergy that can be triggered by mold spores or pollen, such as asthma. You should, therefore, avoid flowering plants such as spider plants and orchids.
5. Clean Your Home
Dirty indoor spaces usually trigger sneezes and coughs, as well as other notable symptoms. In some instances, the effects might be quite severe, leading to the development of nausea, headaches, fatigue, sore throat, and irritating the nose, among others. All these are due to poor air quality caused by a dirty environment.
A clean house isn’t just attractive but also creates a healthier environment. This helps to reduce the accumulation of dust particles, dirt, mold, and animal dander. To eliminate all these:
- Always vacuum your area rugs and carpets at least once a week. Ensure that you use a vacuum clear fitted with a HEPA filter. This will guarantee you a high level of efficiency in eliminating allergens. Understand that while rags and carpets enhance indoor comfort, they also are perfect trapping zones for dust and dirt particles due to their high fiber content.
- Clean your drapes and bedding regularly to minimize the accumulation of allergens. You should consider doing this frequently if you have pets because these animals often shed their fur.
- Remove any accumulated dirt and clutter inside your home. Your interior needs to be more spacious to enhance free air circulation. Clutter usually traps and holds dirt and dust, which can degrade the air quality.
Improving the air quality of any indoor space might be something as simple as just opening the window. It might be as expensive as getting a high-performance air filter for some. Regardless of how you opt to do it, the goal is always to improve air quality.
The above-reviewed five methods are among the best. They are easier to implement, and you can even apply more than one technique. For instance, you can get an air filter but still ensure that you keep your home clean.
Regardless of the technique you consider using, understand that nothing beats a clean space and with free flow of air from regularly opened windows. Most of these techniques are DIY, but you can always outsource the relevant services if you need assistance.
About the Author
Frank Hausman is the founder of HomeAirAdvisor.com, the online resource for improving the air quality and comfort of your home.