Simple Tips to Improve Your Air Quality
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor indoor air quality is one of the top five greatest environmental risks to public health and well-being. Amazing as it sounds, indoor air can be five to 10 times more polluted than outdoors air! This is because there’s a lack of ventilation, so contaminants build up and stagnant air is re-circulated.
Common health problems that can be attributed to poor indoor air quality include:
Fatigue and lethargy
Poor concentration and forgetfulness
Stomach- and digestive problems
So what can you do about it?
Regular duct work cleanings might spring to mind, but according to Pearson getting them cleaned more frequently than once every five to 10 years is unnecessary, as this is unlikely to resolve your health issues. Here too, it’s important to make sure the duct cleaner is certified and well-trained. A good resource is the NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association), which created the standards and lists qualified HVAC technicians.
In terms of making a difference to your health, Pearson suggests the following five guidelines to improve your indoor air quality:
1.Use a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner—Standard bag- or bagless vacuum cleaners are the number one contributor to poor air quality. A regular vacuum cleaner typically has about a 20 micron tolerance. Although that’s tiny, far more microscopic particles flow right through the vacuum cleaner than it actually picks up! Beware of cheaper knock-offs that profess to have “HEPA-like” filters—get the real deal
2.Provide plenty of fresh air ventilation—Open your windows and regularly “air out” your home. Opening at least two windows, on opposite sides of the house, will provide good cross-ventilation through your home. Also bring your mattress and rugs outside and use a rug beater to get the dust out. (Of course, don’t leave out in a high-humidity or wet area)
3.Clean your furnace often—A full and impacted furnace can cause the heat exchanger to crack, which can lead to carbon monoxide leaking out. In small amounts, it may cause headaches, but in high amounts, carbon monoxide is lethal. Replace your furnace filter at least once every three months. Upgrading it to a pleated Filtrate is also a good idea.
4.Avoid storing and using chemicals in your home—Storing chemicals such as drain cleaners, scrubbing powders with bleach and dishwasher powder for example under your sink can create a noxious environment. Do you get headaches when washing dishes? Check what’s being stored beneath the sink! Replace what you really need and use with non-toxic alternatives. Ditto for old paints, glues, fertilizers and pesticides being kept in your garage.
5.Avoid powders—Talcum and other personal care powders can be problematic as they float and linger in the air after each use. Many powders are allergens due to their tiny size, and can cause respiratory problems.
I would also suggest adding a few house plants, as they can act as natural air purifiers. NASA, along with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA), conducted a classic study on the benefits of plants on indoor air, and found that houseplants were able to remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in 24 hours. They recommended using 15 to 18 “good-sized” houseplants in 6- to 8-inch diameter containers for an 1,800 square-foot house.