Fact: Approximately 3.8 million people around the world die every year as a result of indoor air pollution. (iotacommunications.com). It may not be as bad in your home, but it still poses a health risk.
Now, more than ever, it is of utmost importance that the air we breathe will not affect our health negatively. It should be, at the very least, free of viruses or bacteria that may affect our family and us. It may spell the difference between life and death.
Let’s talk about how to improve air quality indoors — at home or in the office.
Why is indoor air quality important?
As you stay indoors most of the time, having good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is of utmost importance. Not only is it critical to your health, but it also affects your work performance, and can at times make you nauseous.
There is little you can do to control the quality of air you breathe outdoors. But indoor air quality is completely within your control. It may be unavoidable that there are sources of chemicals, gases, and other pollutants in your that may cause allergic reaction, asthma, and more.
What affects indoor air quality?
Two main classifications of pollutants impact indoor air quality: particulates and gases.
Particulate matter includes:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
Gaseous pollutants come from:
- Combustion processes, like from a gas stove or fireplace
- Cleaning solutions or paint
More specific examples are:
- Dust mites
- Malfunctioning or old appliances
- Building materials such as asbestos-containing insulation
- Damp carpets and areas that give way to mold growth
- Combustion sources such as wood, coal, oil, gas, or kerosene
- Cigarette or pipe smoke
- Malfunctioning or old heating and cooling equipment like air conditioners
- Sources from outdoors, such as radon or pesticides
- Poor ventilation
- Poor air filtration
According to Medical News Today, home appliances such as boilers, central heating systems, water heaters, cookers, are possible sources of carbon monoxide (CO) gas.
This needs to be monitored because high levels of CO can cause serious side effects on your mind and body. Worse, it can kill humans and pets, which is why it is dubbed a “silent killer.”
If most (or all) of these examples are present in your home (or office), then it’s time to hire a professional to conduct an indoor air quality test. It is especially important to get indoor air pollution measured if you are pregnant or have a baby.
How does indoor air quality affect your health?
The Center for Disease Control has reported that poor IAQ can contribute to respiratory diseases such as asthma; it can even cause headaches, nasal mucus, and fatigue.
There are many unbelievable statistics to back up these findings. The American College of Allergists reported that indoor air pollution causes or contributes to 50% of all illnesses. According to the Texas DSHS, indoor air is two to five times worse than outdoor air.
With all these things that can happen, there is also such a thing as carbon dioxide poisoning.
An imbalance in carbon dioxide results from:
- Not breathing correctly or deeply
- Not breathing often enough
- Rebreathing exhaled air
- Breathing in an enclosed space
These may cause hypercapnia or elevated CO2 levels in the blood. Symptoms include:
- Flushed skin
- Drowsiness or inability to focus
- Mild headaches
- Feeling disoriented or dizzy
- Feeling short of breath
- Being abnormally tired or exhausted
How can indoor air quality be improved?
If reading this has caused you to panic, please don’t. There are simple steps you can take right now:
- Remember two-O’s – “outside” and “organic”
The most effective solution is to ensure that pollutants don’t enter your home in the first place. This step costs nothing.
If you have to paint, do it outside or make sure you leave windows open and fans running until the paint dries.
When selecting furniture or other home products, choose organic materials, such as real wood, instead of artificially produced materials, which can contain chemicals such as formaldehyde.
- Get air flowing and moving
Ensuring good ventilation is another solution that won’t make a big impact on your wallet. You will also immediately feel how this works wonders on your well-being.
Run exhaust fans when cooking to release combustible gases outside. When the climate allows, open windows and doors to circulate air.
Whole-house mechanical ventilation systems, like an energy recovery ventilator, are also helpful to ensure the flow of fresh air.
- Go green
Fill your home with air-cleaning plants. They will also help absorb CO2 and help create oxygen for you to breathe in. (If you have pets, make sure the plants you choose are non-poisonous as pets tend to nibble on some leaves.)
According to Better Homes and Gardens, some of the best air-cleaning plants are:
- Devil’s Ivy – removes xylene, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene
- Dwarf Date Palm – removes formaldehyde, xylene
- Peace Lily – removes benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene
- Philodendron – removes formaldehyde
- Spider Plant – removes formaldehyde, xylene
If you are worried you don’t have a green thumb, the good news is most of these plants are low maintenance. They are also perfect for busy bees (pun intended).
- Enact the last line of defense
If you want to cover all your bases, or if someone in your home suffers from respiratory problems, get the air in your home tested, then consider purchasing an air cleaner.
There are a variety of air cleaners or air purifiers on the market that target specific classes of pollutants, and some models use combined air-cleaning technology to rid the air of several different kinds of pollutants.
- How is indoor air quality measured?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) as: “the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.” This can be measured by:
- Using indoor air quality sensors
These sensors act as your indoor air quality monitors for carbon monoxide, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), humidity, formaldehyde, and radon.
EPA prescribes one sensor for every 10,000 square feet. Technology has brought down the cost of air quality sensors and has made them more compact for smaller homes and spaces.
- Working with professionals
Nothing can give you and your family greater peace than knowing you have people genuinely concerned for your well-being. They also know what and where to check and what to prescribe to cover what you need.
Installation is another matter. Professionals can correctly install an air cleaning system and filtration that will improve your air quality data and even carbon footprint. (The best way to enhance the quality of air is to think of the planet!)
Professionals at All Year service the Great Sacramento Area. They can handle your needs — air, heating, solar — in ways that are good to you and the environment.
Quality air is within your reach — All Year round. Contact us today.