Fresh and breathable air is essential for all living beings. Since the industrial revolution, our air has become increasingly contaminated with innumerable toxins.
If you think air pollution is something that only happens outdoors, think again! You’d be surprised to know that air inside your home or office can be more contaminated than the air outside.
In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside your house is 3-4 times more contaminated than the air outside your house.
Why Indoor Air Quality is Important
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is the quality of air inside buildings, such as houses, offices, factories etc., and is related to the health of the inhabitants of those buildings.
When it comes to time spent in homes, offices, and other building sites, the EPA reported that 90% American spend their times indoors. Hence, IAQ can severely impact the well-being of an individual.
The lack of good air quality results from a buildup of gases, chemicals, and other pollutants that cause allergies, headaches, eye infections, fatigue, nausea, and even account for chronic illnesses.
Research has also revealed that the growth of bacteria and fungi in such areas is promoted by moisture and humidity, which humans also like to a certain degree. These microbes and fungi can serve as bio-pollutants.
Good IAQ is vital for health as it prevents several environmental toxins and health issues, such as asthma, which affects 25 million people annually.
Why Indoor Air Quality Isn't as Good as You Think
If you think your indoor air quality is good enough, think again. Most people don’t have any idea how their house’s IAQ is affecting them.
Your own activities around your house or office may be the culprit behind the indoor air pollution. Your indoor air quality isn’t as good as you think because:
- Chemical cleaning products like floor cleaners and sprays release hazardous fumes into the air
- Air fresheners and scented candles can freshen up the aroma in your house, but at a deadly cost; most of them contain potential cancer-causing agents
- Sealing your home tight might lead to heat conservation, but a tightly-insulated house prevents air circulation, which can reduce the air quality
Factors That Reduce Indoor Air Quality
Although many factors may be involved in worsening indoor air quality, the popular ones might be:
1. Chemicals :
Most chemicals – whether solid, liquid, or gas – are the recognized causes of allergies and bad odors. Bad smells may cause discomfort, but toxic chemicals induce lasting impacts on health and may become the cause of long-term diseases, such as cancer.
2. Radon :
Radon is known as a common gas pollutant that enters inside via cracks and weak seals of the building. It is known to cause lung cancer.
3. Suspended Particles :
Particles suspended in the air, whether those are dust or smoke, can have a devastating impact on health. The particles enter the buildings as a result of outdoor pollution, but can also be produced inside the house via cooking, smoking, and using synthetic products.
4. Microorganisms :
Fungi, viruses, and other harmful microorganisms are a crucial factor in worsening the air quality inside buildings. The problems relating to microbes become even worse when the atmosphere inside the building is damp.
5. Pets and Insects :
Roaches, mites, ticks, and mice are the main carriers of diseases indoors. The not only contaminate the living area but also allow for the development of bad air quality. Pets, of course, can also be the cause of allergies.
6. Temperature and Humidity :
Other factors include lack of ventilation and fluctuating temperature and humidity, which bring health-related discomfort.
5 Ways to Improve Air Quality in Your House
1. Keep the Floor Clean
To improve indoor air quality, you can clean the floors using a vacuum with a powerful HEPA filter. By doing so, you might be able to reduce the concentration of poisonous chemicals, particles, and other allergens.
You might want to start by vacuuming the same area several times and remember to include walls, carpeted floors, and furniture.
The next thing you can do is to use a microfiber mop to reach out for areas you couldn’t vacuum. With their minute filaments, microfiber mops can capture more dust and don’t require any sort of chemicals for cleaning later.
Also, you can use doormats to reduce the chance of getting pollutants and dirt entering through people’s feet. You may also place a shoe rack by the entrance and use slippers and socks for use in the home only.
2. Maintain a Healthy, Moderate Humidity Level
Keeping your home or office dehumidified in summer season can prevent the air from getting moist and growing harmful organisms. You can install a dehumidifier to control allergens and prevent health problems. Moreover, using an air conditioner can be a plus as it can filter out contaminants and reduces humidity.
You may also use an exhaust fan or an open window to let the air exchange. It’s not common in the US, but you can purchase an air exchanger for your house that does this automatically. You may also want to look for leaking pipes or other sources of moisture to avoid dampness.
3. NO Smoking Inside the House
Smoking is one of the reasons why children develop allergies and breathing problems in the first place. Smoking enhances indoor pollution as it contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Ceasing smoking inside the house is an effective measure to overcome indoor pollution.
If you need help with smoking cessation, try visiting your doctor and join local support groups and rehab therapies. If you cannot quit smoking, at the very least you should buy a specifically designed air purifier for smoke.
4. Radon Test
As radon is a radioactive gas and might enter houses through fissures and cracks, you might want to take a radon test. It is a simple, inexpensive, and quick test which determines the levels of this gas. You can easily get the radon levels reduced by installing a remediation system.
5. Use Naturally Good Smelling Products
In place of using chemicals to clean your house, you may want to use natural products that are naturally fragrant and promise a clean house. You should stop using conventional fresheners, laundry detergents, soaps, polishes, and sprays. Use natural products instead, such as lemon and baking soda in your kitchen and mild cleansers free of chemicals.
Air is a gift which can become a curse when it’s polluted. Reducing outdoor and indoor pollution are equally important priorities. Taking these effective measures is the one way indoor atmospheric pollution can be improved and health issues can be alleviated.