Breathing is an automatic process – it can be easy to forget the importance of good air quality. But overlooking this crucial factor can lead to adverse health effects. Outside, controlling the air you breathe is impossible: factors like pollution make it a matter that’s out of your hands. In your own home, you have the power to improve the quality of air that cycles throughout the rooms. Doing so will keep your household members healthy and comfortable.
What happens when the air in your home is of lower quality? For one, it can make you feel tired and fatigued. It can also produce symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, headaches, difficulty breathing, and dry eyes or skin. Over time, these symptoms can become major health problems, such as infection, lung disease, or cancer – in extreme cases, polluted air can be fatal.
Tobacco smoke is a leading cause of indoor air pollution. It releases thousands of chemicals into the air that remain trapped inside your home. If people smoke indoors, the members of your household inhale second-hand smoke that can cause severe lung issues.
Don’t believe in common air conditioner myths. Stick to the facts when it comes to assessing the air quality in your home. Ensure that your AC unit is inspected annually to keep it running optimally. Change the filters as needed to remove dust and other debris from the air. Doing so will prevent bacteria and allergens from spreading throughout your home. If you live with any furry friends, be aware that pet hair tends to clog filters, so you’ll need to clean and replace them more frequently.
Is your home a humid place? It’s recommended that households maintain humidity between 30-50%. Anything more can promote the growth of mold and fungi. Exposure to fungus can lead to coughing, wheezing, and respiratory tract issues. Reduce the moisture in your home by improving its insulation or purchasing a dehumidifier. Locate any water leaks and have them patched promptly. Pay attention to areas with high humidity like pipes, laundry rooms, and bathrooms – shower curtains are notorious for sprouting mold. Installing ventilation fans in these rooms can help reduce humidity.
Does anyone in your home suffer from allergies? If so, maintaining high-quality air is even more important. Indoor air pollution can worsen allergies significantly. The same goes for those that suffer from asthma; contaminants like dust and pollen are frequent irritators of this disease. Pay attention to your location when your allergies or asthma act up; if they tend to worsen when inside your home, chances are that your air quality is less than optimal.
Radon may be the single most important reason as to why you should monitor the air in your home. Formed in soil, radon is a radioactive gas that enters through openings and cracks in the foundation, walls, and floors of a house. Exposure to high levels of it causes lung cancer. This sinister gas is both colorless and odorless, so it’s impossible to detect without the right device. If you perform a radon test and find high levels in your home, contact a professional to bring them back down to a healthy amount.
Another gas to be wary of is carbon monoxide. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, disorientation, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. High levels can be fatal. Common sources of it are gas stoves, indoor furnaces, space heaters, leaking chimneys, and cigarette smoke. You can install a carbon monoxide alarm that will signal when it detects unsafe levels of this gas.
After reading these negative effects, you are probably wondering how to improve the air quality in your home. Don’t worry; we’ve compiled the most effective ways to keep you breathing comfortably and safely inside:
Air quality is improved when you adhere to the healthiest room temperature. Those with respiratory issues should make sure that the temperature of their home is above 61°F (16°C). For households with young children, the elderly, or those with disabilities, the temperature should be set to 68°F (20°C) at the minimum. The right temperature will keep humidity levels in check.
Cleaning regularly will prevent the build up of dust in your home. When it accumulates, dust becomes an air pollutant. It can irritate noses and throats of those who breathe it in. Be careful of cleaning products that contain toxic agents like phthalates, perchloroethylene, ammonium, or triclosan; these chemicals can worsen the air quality in your home and make all your hard work for naught. Try homemade, green, cleaning concoctions instead to preserve your health and reduce your exposure to pollutants.
Increasing the ventilation in your home can help eliminate air pollution. Open a window to let fresh air circulate throughout. Otherwise, your HVAC system continues to recycle the same air.
Using fans when cooking, showering, or doing laundry can reduce humidity and promote better air quality.