Regardless of whether we’re inside or out, air quality as we breathe can have a significant impact on our health. Research has shown that poor air quality outdoors can lead to strokes, lung cancer, and heart disease. According to the WHO, poor air quality and air pollution result in approximately 7 million deaths across the globe every year.
While it is difficult to control the quality of air outdoors, especially in public spaces, the air inside your home can be cleaned and purified with a bit of extra care and attention. In fact, studies have shown that the air inside your home in some cases can contain even more pollution than the air outdoors. Research has shown that we spend the majority of our time indoors, so taking care to ensure the quality of the air inside your home is important for the health and wellbeing of yourself and your family.
What Causes Air Pollution Indoors?
There is a wide range of reasons that the air inside your home may be polluted or of low quality. In some cases, items such as new furniture or building materials may release pollutants continuously. Other sources such as cleaning materials, smoking, or renovations can sporadically release pollutants and contribute to poor air quality. Sometimes, appliances can be the culprit, if they are not properly vented or are malfunctioning. This can lead to the release of pollutants indoors that may be at dangerous levels. Even higher-end or “trendy” appliances (such as gas stoves) can negatively affect air quality.
The use of aerosol or sprayed air fresheners may make the air smell nice, but they are also a type of air pollution, releasing more possibly harmful chemicals into the air of your home. One study showed that health problems connected to the use of air fresheners cost hundreds of billions of dollars in treatment and productivity expenses.
How Can I Improve the Air Quality in my Home?
Open Your Windows – This may seem like an obvious point, but opening your windows often is the most inexpensive and simple way to improve the air quality in your home. Even just 5 minutes of open window time each day can go a long way toward alleviating the accumulation of air pollutants indoors.
Get Some Houseplants – There are several types of popular houseplants that actually work to filter the air in your home and remove potentially toxic pollutants and vapors from the air. For instance, the well-known ‘spider plant’ effectively reduces the levels of formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide in your home’s air.
Use Natural Products – If you are concerned about the air quality in your home, making the gradual switch to natural products is a great step. Instead of aerosol or spray air fresheners, opt for an essential oil diffuser to make your home smell fresh and clean. Choose beeswax or soy-based candles, to reduce the number of harmful particles in the air. When it comes to cleaning supplies, replace your chemical-based cleaners with more natural items, such as white vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.
Remove your Shoes
The shoes you wear outdoors can track some pretty dirty things including bacteria, pollen, fungi, animal feces, and pesticides. When you walk into your home with your shoes on, anything that may be on the bottoms or sides of your shoes will be tracked and carried throughout your home. The best thing to do is take your shoes off at the door and put on some slippers or indoor shoes. Not only will the air inside be cleaner, but so will your floors!
Check your Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
This isn’t just about air quality, but it’s also about health and safety. Even if you aren’t concerned about the air quality in your home, it is vitally important to inspect, test, and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly to ensure they are working properly. You don’t want to wait until an emergency to find out they are malfunctioning!
Run Your Air Conditioner & Use an Air Purifier
If your home has a central air conditioning system, good news! Your house already has a built-in air filtration system. Central air works to filter the air by pulling the air from your home, cooling that air, and feeding it back in. Central air conditioning systems have filters that must be cleaned or replaced regularly. These filters work to trap particles in the air while the air conditioner does its job.
Using an air purifier in your home is also an effective method to decrease the number of harmful particles that may be circulating in the air. Placing an air purifier in the bedroom is a great option, especially if you (or a family member) have asthma. If the air in your home is on the dryer side, you can also look into humidifiers that also work to purify the air.
Talk to a Home Inspector!
While the steps mentioned above are great ways to improve the quality of the air in your home, engaging with an experienced home inspector is the only way to be sure that the air you breathe at home is as clean and safe as possible. A home inspector can not only tell you how to improve your home’s air quality, but they can also identify the sources of potentially harmful or dangerous particles and toxins in the air of your home. At Building Insights, we pride ourselves on helping all of our clients maintain their homes and optimize their health and safety. Contact us today for your free quote or to schedule an inspection. We can’t wait to hear from you!