We tend to think of air pollution as something outside -smog, ozone, or haze hanging in the air, especially in summer. But the truth is, the air inside homes, offices, and other buildings can be more polluted than the air outside. In addition, people who may be exposed to indoor air pollutants for the longest periods of time are often those most susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution. Such groups include the young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
Where do domestic pollutants come from?
Furniture, cigarettes, household appliances, cooking and even textiles can spread harmful gasses that pollute indoors air. Among the most widespread pollutants, we find formaldehyde-a derivative of formalin coming from insulation sprays, flooring glue, and certain flooring treatments. Household cleaning products also cause a great deal of interior pollution, with the worst offenders being ammonia and acetaldehyde.
What can you do about it?
1. Ventilate Your Home
Opening windows to encourage outdoor air circulation and ventilation can help prevent crystallization of pollutants and reduce stale air. Even when it’s chilly outside, you should open a window for at least five minutes a few times a day to help circulate fresh air into the home and pull out some indoor air pollutants. Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Especially important during current times with the onset of a pandemic, recent studies are showing that encouraging fresh air ventilation indoors can help reduce virus transmissions in enclosed spaces and buildings. When thinking about options, the CDC recommends the use of ceiling fans and suggest that evaporative coolers are a safe alternative to providing “cross-draft airflow”. We recommend evaporative coolers like those from a reliable brand such as Honeywell Air Coolers, to help renew stale air while also providing some moisture to help with dry air that can exasperate respiratory symptoms.
2. Keep it Clean
A clean house may be a healthier house, because good indoor hygiene can greatly cut down on dust and animal dander. Vacuuming the carpets and area rugs at least once or twice a week with a vacuum cleaner can go a long way in reducing dust and allergens. Opting for hard-surface flooring instead of wall-to-wall carpeting may also cut down on allergens in the home. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends washing in water that is at least 130° F. Also consider using dust mite–proof covers on pillows, as well as mattresses and box springs, whenever possible.
3. Invest in a Good Quality Air Purifier
An air purifier or air cleaner is a device which removes contaminants from the air in a room. It can help create a cleaner, healthier indoor air for your home or office, which can prevent health conditions related to air quality. When selecting an air purifier, first think about your indoor air quality needs. If you have allergy problems, you should go for an air purifier specifically designed for allergy relief, something like Blueair Classic 203 or the Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover. The Bluemyst Air Purifier is a great new brand for an effective and affordable air purifier.
If you suffer from asthma or if your symptoms are triggered by odor and chemical pollutants, you’ll want to consider an asthma air purifier or an odor and chemical air purifier. These air purifiers contain added odor and chemical filtration as well as HEPA filters for allergen particle removal.
4. Keep a Healthy Level of Humidity with a Reliable Dehumidifier
The EPA lists excess humidity as a major cause for indoor air pollution. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% helps keep mold, mildew and other allergens under control. Dust-mites also thrive in more humid air, so keeping air dry can reduce growth on floor, carpet and linens. A reliable dehumidifier will significantly reduce moisture in your home to a healthy level. A necessary appliance to have if you live in more humid cities, to keep air pollution caused by bacteria and mold growth at bay. Look for a long-lasting Dehumidifier you can rely on every season because you may be running them 24/7. Look out for brands like Honeywell Dehumidifiers that offer a long 5-year warranty so you can be protected if the unit wears or malfunctions over time.
5. Don’t Over-Use Scented Products & Essential Oils
There are many scented products including essential oils, fragrances diffusers and aromatherapy products that are marketed to help improve health. Some even go further to claim antiviral properties, but with little scientific research on health benefits, it is important to take this information with a grain of salt. An excess of anything is usually not recommended and as suggested by IndoorScience.com, many essential oils and fragrance diffusers add unhealthy VOC’s (Volatile organic compounds) into the air. Even if brands of fragrance products claim them to be “natural”, it does not mean they are healthy. So, try and weigh the benefit that those fragrances give you over the increased volume of VOC’s in your room that can contribute to increasing indoor air pollution.