If you or your family suffer from breathing difficulties, you’re likely very interested in ways to get healthier indoor air. For the people who have never had to consider the condition of their air, (lucky!!!!) consider this post food for thought.
We tend to think of air pollution as only existing outside, but the reality is indoor air is typically 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Making positive indoor air quality changes in your home isn’t hard. In reality, small changes can make a huge impact.
How to Get Healthier Indoor Air
Steps toward cleaner, healthier air at home:
- Clean It Up
Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can help you rid allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. You can also reduce other toxins like fire-retardant chemicals. – This is a BIG WIN on your quest for healthier air! – A vacuum with rotating brushes, strong suction, and a HEPA filter will ensure that dirt doesn’t get released back into the air through the exhaust. There are many vacuums on the market that meet these criteria, but the Shark Rotator has our seal of approval. Anti-allergen complete seal technology captures and holds over 99.9% of dust and allergens. Simply put, this vacuum is a cut above the rest.
Mopping will pick up any dust that vacuuming leaves behind. Mopping without the use of harsh chemicals will also improve your indoor air quality. Microfiber mops can capture more dust and dirt than traditional mops – no chemicals required.
- Roll out the welcome mat
Even if you’re not up for company, placing a floor mat at every entrance to your home can actually work wonders for keeping out agents of dirty air. Pesticides, pollen, and dirt are commonly tracked in on shoes. A floor mat helps reduce these nasty pollutants from getting into your home. Better yet, have your guests (and family) remove shoes upon entering your home.
- Change Your Filter Regularly
A clogged filter will not remove airborne particles efficiently. Also, a dirty filter results in higher energy costs because the heating and cooling motors have to strain to push air through the system. A filter upgrade is a great way to boost your indoor air quality. By improving your indoor air quality, you effectively improve the health of you and your family members. The Carbon Clean 16 media filter by Lennox (ask us how to get one installed!) protects your home from more than 95% of allergy aggravating particles down to 0.3 microns. This is the same level of filtration used in hospitals – where healthy indoor air can literally be a matter of life and death.
How often you need to change out your filter depends on the type of filter you buy. Some require monthly replacements while others can last up to 6 months. If you’ve let your filter go beyond the recommended replacement time frame, a simple switch may not be enough to ensure great indoor air quality. You may have a dirty duct situation on your hands. The dirt and dust adheres to duct surfaces and heating/cooling components. This creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and other fungi that are sources of indoor air pollution.
- Manage Humidity Levels
Living in Iowa, humidity levels fluctuate a lot. Depending on the outdoor temperature, your optimal indoor humidity levels may need to change. A good rule of thumb is to never have your in home humidity levels exceed 50% in the summertime. Healthier humidity levels = Healthier indoor air.
- Smoking Ban
Secondhand cigarette smoke is probably the most important aspect to indoor air pollution. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, chemicals that have been proven to cause cancer, breathing problems, stroke, and heart attacks. Do not allow smoking in your home. (Smoking inside makes healthy indoor air impossible.) It’s a danger to everyone.
- Smell good, naturally!
You may associate a clean home with the smell of pine or lemon, but these synthetic fragrances emit dozens of chemicals into the air. Don’t be fooled by the “smell of clean.” We’re after healthier indoor air, not perfumed indoor air. 🙂
Conventional laundry detergents, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, air fresheners and household cleaners emit nasty chemical gasses. Maybe you’ve heard the term VOC, which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids.
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.United States EPA
Home Humidity Levels
If you have the tools to do so, monitor and maintain optimal humidity levels. We’ve come up with a handy little cheat sheet for you to use on your way to healthier air:
|Outside Temperature||Indoor Relative Humidity Level|
|10-20°F||No more than 35%|
|0-10°F||No more than 30%|
|-10-0°F||No more than 25%|
|-20-10°F||No more than 20%|
tips to keep humidity levels healthy:
- Make use of a dehumidifier during the summer
- Don’t over-water house plants
- Crack a door or window when cooking or bathing, or install proper ventilation/exhaust fans
How To Limit exposure to VOCs:
Healthier indoor air starts with preventative measures. VOCs are no joking matter. In some cases, exposure has resulted in permanent brain or lung damage – or even death.
- Look for fragrance free or naturally scented options in cleaners and laundry products.
- Stop using aerosol sprays including deodorants, furniture polish, air fresheners, and carpet cleaners.
- Get a house plant. They are great natural air purifiers that will absorb chemical pollutants and pump healthier air into your home.
- Let in fresh air to prevent the buildup of toxic chemicals in your home.
- Ask us about the air filtration options that are right for your home.