With as much focus as our society puts on reducing outdoor air pollution, it’s a wonder we don’t spend nearly as much time focusing on the air inside of our homes – the air we breathe for hours every day.
Why Clean Air Matters
According to a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends as much as 87 percent of their life indoors. And if you’re like most people, a very large chunk of this time is spent in your own home – sleeping, eating, working, etc. So while outdoor air quality matters, it’s really your home’s indoor air quality that has the biggest impact on your family’s health.
According to the same EPA study, concentrations of some pollutants are generally two- to five-times higher than average outdoor concentrations. In other words, you need to place an emphasis on clean air in the home.
The health effects of continuously breathing polluted air for hours each day are widespread and severe. Not only can it lead to the worsening of allergies and asthma, but it can also contribute to learning disabilities in children, cardiovascular diseases, and even premature death. The most common symptoms are chronic irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, fatigue, and respiratory diseases.
4 Tips For Better Indoor Air Quality
The good news is that you can do something about the air quality inside your home. Sometimes it’s as easy as installing a new piece of equipment, while other times it requires a total overhaul or significant behavioral changes. It’s up to you to determine what’s appropriate in your case, but here are a handful of tips to get you moving in a positive direction:
1. Ensure Proper Air Exchange Rate
“The air exchange rate with the outdoors is an important factor in determining indoor air pollutant concentrations,” the EPA explains. “The air exchange rate is affected by the design, construction, and operating parameters of buildings and is ultimately a function of infiltration (air that flows into structures through openings, joints, and cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings and around windows and doors), natural ventilation (air that flows through opened windows and doors), and mechanical ventilation (air that is forced indoors or vented outdoors by ventilation devices, such as fans or air handling systems).”
If you suspect your air exchange rate isn’t where it should be, it’s imperative that you take the proper steps to increase airflow and obtain a minimum of four air changes per room per hour.
2. Use The Right Filters
With air being circulated through your home dozens of times per day, it’s important that you have the right filters installed. They also need to be clean.
“A clean filter will be effective at removing airborne particles, such as dust, dirt, debris and pet dander,” Around The Clock Heating and Air Conditioning explains. “A dirty filter, on the other hand, could make the indoor air quality worse by continuously circulating airborne contaminants through the entire home.”
If you have reusable filters, be sure to clean them according to the manufacturer’s instructions every few weeks. If you use disposable filters, keep a few on hand so that you can easily swap them out when they become dirty.
3. Maintain A Healthy Level Of Humidity
Too much moisture in the home can create problems – such as dust mites and mold. For best results, maintain a humidity level of 30 to 50 percent. This will keep allergens under control. If you’re having trouble keeping your moisture level in this range, a dehumidifier can help.
4. Never Smoke Inside
One of the single most important aspects of indoor air pollution is secondhand cigarette smoke. More than 7,000 chemicals have been identified in secondhand tobacco smoke, and at least 250 are known to be harmful to humans. Never, under any circumstances, should you smoke inside. Not only does it affect you, but it also impacts everyone else in the home.
Breathe Easy, Live Happy
The quality of the air moving in and out of your lungs isn’t something your family spends much time thinking about on a daily basis, but it’s time that you pay attention. By understanding the importance of the air you breathe and recognizing the need for better indoor air quality, you can make necessary changes to improve your family’s health and live a happier life.
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