5 ways to improve your indoor air quality

February 11 2015
Air Quality Improvement

Many people believe that outdoor air is dirtier than the air found indoors. In fact, in most cases it is the opposite. When we are indoors, there are pollutants all around us. These pollutants can be divided into one of two categories; gaseous and particulate pollutants. 

Gaseous Pollutants are gases found within the home (some of which are harmful to our health) such as:

 Carbon Dioxide – This gas is emitted from our exhaled breath

 Water Vapour – This is usually defined indoors as humidity

 Oxygen – The gas we need to breathe

 Carbon Monoxide – This gas is created through fuel combustion ie coal stoves, cookers

 4-Phenylcyclohexene (4PCH) – This gas can come from the off-gassing of carpet or parquet flooring adhesive

 Methane – This gas is also used in gas cookers

 Volatile Organic Compounds – Volatile organic compounds are used in the production of paints, coatings, Cleaning solutions, air fresheners, refrigerants, tobacco smoke, wall coverings etc

 Formaldehyde – This gas can come into the home through disinfectants or nail varnish

Particulate pollutants are defined as particles found within the atmosphere such as dust, dander, hair (yours and any pets), skin etc.  The less pollutants that you have within your home, the healthier your indoor air will be.

Here are 5 ways that you can improve your indoor air quality:

1 – Make sure that the air coming into your home is clean

In the home, the air conditioning system provides nearly all of our fresh/ clean air. However, air conditioning systems are usually never cleaned from the time of construction. So you have a case where clean air is contaminated when it moves along the ducts. If you have not cleaned it, chances are it has never been cleaned. Take the first step and call us to come and inspect the system for you. ITS FREE!!!!

2 -. Keep your floors fresh.

Using a vacuum cleaner that has strong suction, rotating brushes, and a HEPA filter ensures that dust and dirt won’t get blown back out in the exhaust. In high traffic areas, vacuum the same spot several times. Don’t forget walls, carpet edges, and upholstered furniture, where dust accumulates. For best results, vacuum two or more times each week and wash out your filter regularly.

Suck it up. Chemicals and allergens can accumulate in household dust for decades. By using a vacuum with a HEPA filter you can reduce concentrations of lead in your home. You can also get rid of other toxins, like brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) as well as allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.

Mop it up. Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water to capture any lingering dust or allergens. New microfiber mops (and dust cloths) reportedly capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers and don’t require any cleaning solutions whatsoever.

Keep it out. Put a large floor mat at every door. People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A door mat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into your home. If the mat is big enough, even those who don’t wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat — not the floors in your home.

3 – Keep a healthy level of humidity. Dust mites and mold love moisture. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% helps keep them and other allergens under control. A dehumidifier (and air conditioner during summer months) helps reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively controls allergens. Also running your AC on 26 reduces indoor pollen count — another plus for allergy-sufferers. Humidity levels over 60% are a concern.

More tips for dehumidifying your home:

 Use an exhaust fan or open a window when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing.

 Don’t overwater houseplants.

 Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.

 Fix leaky plumbing to prevent moisture-loving mold.

 Empty drip pans in your window air conditioner and dehumidifier.

4 – Make your home a no-smoking zone

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Research shows that secondhand smoke increases a child’s risk of developing ear and respiratory infections, asthma, cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For the smoker, this addiction causes cancer, breathing problems, heart attacks, and stroke.

5 – Smell good naturally

You may associate that lemony or piney scent with a clean kitchen or clean clothes. But synthetic fragrances in laundry products and air fresheners emit dozens of different chemicals into the air. You won’t find their names on the product labels. Conventional laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and air fresheners in solid, spray, and oil form may all emit such gasses.

In one study, a plug-in air freshener was found to emit 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including seven regulated as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws. But these chemicals were not included on the label — only the word “fragrance” is required to be listed. But the actual composition of the fragrance is considered a “trade secret.”

Most fragrances are derived from petroleum products, and generally haven’t been tested to see if they have any significant adverse health effects in humans when they are inhaled. (Tests usually focus on whether a fragrance causes skin irritation.) Some that have been tested raise concern. Phthalates are a group of chemicals often used in fragrances and also used to soften plastics. Studies show that phthalates disrupt hormones in animals. What can you do?

 Look for fragrance-free or naturally-scented laundry products.

 Switch to mild cleaners that don’t include artificial fragrances.

 Stop using aerosol sprays — deodorants, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, furniture polish, and air fresheners.

 Let in fresh air. Open windows so toxic chemicals don’t build up in your home. What if you or your child has pollen allergies? Then keep rooms ventilated with a filtered air- conditioning system.

 Use sliced lemons and baking soda to get a clean scent in the kitchen.

 Bring nature indoors. Any room is prettier with a fern, spider plant, or aloe vera. It’s also healthier.

NASA research shows that indoor plants like these act as living air purifiers — the foliage and roots work in tandem to absorb chemical pollutants released by synthetic materials. If you have kids or pets, make sure the plants aren’t poisonous if ingested.

Reference – http://www.webmd.com/lung/features/6-ways-to-improve-indoor-air-quality?page=3