Air pollution is a term that is oftentimes associated with smokestacks and clouds of pollution. While those are certain types of air pollution, trapped stagnant air and poor ventilation can create a toxic cloud inside your home. Here are a few facts everyone should know about indoor air quality. Learn how to identify and protect yourself from indoor air pollutants.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside your home is two to five times more polluted than the air outside. Poor ventilation, certain air fresheners, and household cleaners are all some of the most common contributors to poor indoor air quality.
Check out one of our extensive blogs on indoor air quality, here: Indoor Air Quality: The Ultimate Guide For Homeowners
Types of Indoor Air Pollutants
Radon is a radioactive gas that forms in soil. It can enter indoors through the cracks and openings in floors and walls that are in contact with the ground.
Secondhand smoke comes from burning tobacco products. It can cause cancer and serious respiratory illnesses.
Children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. It can cause or worsen allergy symptoms.
Combustion pollutants are gasses and particles that come from burning materials. The most common culprits for combustion pollutants are improperly vented or unvented fuel-burning appliances, like:
- Space heaters
- Water heaters
Volatile Organic Compounds:
VOCs are emitted by a wide array of everyday products used in homes:
- Paints and lacquers
- Paint strippers
- Cleaning supplies
- Varnishes and waxes
- Building materials and furnishings
- Office equipment
- Moth repellents
- Air fresheners
- Dry-cleaned clothing
VOCs evaporate into the air when these products are used or sometimes even when they are just stored.
Volatile organic compounds can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat and can cause headaches, nausea and damage your liver, kidneys and central nervous system.
Asthma triggers are commonly found in homes, schools, and offices. These triggers include mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke, and pet dander.
Areas where you can find asthma triggers in your home:
- Shower curtains– Mold often grows here.
- Pillow, blankets, stuffed animals– dust mites can live in these areas and cause asthma symptoms
- Secondhand smoke– Secondhand smoke can stay in the air, even after the burning has stopped.
- Cat and dog hair– This can trigger asthma symptoms and can stay in your home for a while.
How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
Use these tips to help improve your air quality:
Control pollution sources: Try to reduce individual sources or their emissions.
Ventilation: Increasing the amount of fresh air will help reduce pollutants inside. If weather allows, open windows and doors or run an air conditioner with your vent control open. Make sure your exhaust vents are all going to the outside of your house. This will increase ventilation and lower humidity in your home.
Change your air filters regularly: Central heaters and air conditioners have filters to trap dust and other pollutants from entering your household. Remember to change your air filter regularly! A good rule of thumb is to change your air filter regularly so that dust doesn’t settle and matte inside your filter. Depending on your household, we recommend changing it every month or at least every three months.
How to choose a good quality air filter:
Air conditioner filters are classified by categories through MERV ratings. When you buy an air filter, look for the MERV rating to see what works best for you.
MERV 7: Trap larger particles and provide standard efficiency.
MERV 8: Useful for pet owners and for those who suffer from dust and pollen allergies.
MERV 11: The best home air conditioner air filters are MERV 11. These are perfect for those who suffer from chronic respiratory illnesses and if your home has low indoor air quality.
To learn more about air filters, click some of our blogs:
Adjusting humidity: Humidity levels can affect the concentrations of some indoor air pollutants. High humidity keeps the air moist and can increase the likelihood of mold growth.
Keep indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent. It might be worth investing in a humidity or moisture gauge. These are available at most hardware stores. To increase humidity, use a vaporizer or humidifier. To decrease humidity, open the windows if the weather allows. However, if it is too warm, turn on your air conditioner, and adjust the humidity setting.
Learn how to remove dust in your home from top to bottom with this blog: Click here:
Improve Indoor Air Quality In Every Room
Kitchen: Your kitchen can collect a lot of heat and humidity. Learn how to reduce humidity in your kitchen with these tips.
- Install a kitchen range hood that is vented to the outside. Remember to use this whenever you cook and regularly clean the vent hood screens.
- Open a window while you cook to increase air flow.
- If you have a fan above your stove, turn it on.
- Remove garbage from your kitchen as often as possible to decrease mold and bacteria growth.
Bedroom: Your bedroom can also collect air pollutants, such as dust mites. Follow these tips to increase your indoor air quality in your bedroom.
- Some air fresheners release dangerous VOCs. If you find your bedroom is filled with odors, try eliminating the root of the problem instead of masking smells.
- TIP: It might be your AC! Why Does My Air Conditioner Smell Like Mildew?
- Change your bed sheets weekly. Dust mites love to live in your sheets, pillows, and mattresses. Along with washing your sheets regularly, encase your mattress and box spring in an allergen-proof cover.
Bathroom: Bathrooms are a breeding ground for pollutants, like mold and its creator, humidity.
- Install and use bathroom vents.
- Be wary of harsh cleaners. Baking soda and vinegar can clean almost every surface of your house.
- TIP: For more tips on effective DIY cleaners, click here: 7 DIY Natural Cleaning Recipes for Florida Homes
Living Room: As one of the most populated rooms in your house, it’s important to maintain your indoor air quality in your living room.
- Once again, proper ventilation is key. Make sure nothing is obstructing your air vents. The air won’t be able to circulate if furniture or curtains are obstructing the vents, and you will find yourself in one hot room!
- Consider buying indoor plants that can improve your indoor air quality.
- TIP: These houseplants are easy to maintain and will increase your indoor air quality! Check out our blog, here:
- What Houseplants Increase Indoor Air Quality?
Tired of Sneezing and Coughing? Contact Colman Heating & Air
Tired of feeling the effects of poor indoor air quality? It’s time to take control of your IAQ and improve your life. If you suffer from mold, toxic VOCs and poor ventilation, call Colman Heating & Air! We are in the business of making you comfortable.