Now more than ever, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us of some of the great health-related fears in life. As a result, people are now extremely conscious of their health and well-being. One huge aspect of living healthy is breathing in high-quality air. While outdoor environments cannot necessarily be controlled, indoor environments certainly can. Old and faulty air and heating systems can create stale air inside a home or office and create a multitude of potential respiratory problems for those who may have underlying conditions. Those who are also sensitive to indoor allergens will struggle in these conditions as well.
“On average, we spend around 90 percent of our time indoors. So, it’s important to keep our indoor air as clean as possible, especially during winter months when we like to keep our windows and doors shut tight to seal out the cold,”
Therefore, one should strive to create the best indoor air quality possible.
What Causes Poor Air Quality?
Poor indoor air quality can stem from a number of causes. One of the more dangerous can be the leaking of a gas, such as carbon monoxide. That gas, in particular, can be deadly, which is why a majority of states require buildings to have carbon monoxide detectors installed. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that cannot be discovered without the aid of a detector.
Combustion is one of the more common causes of poor air quality. Combustion can arise from a variety of factors including cooking with gas and smoking tobacco products indoors. The chemicals from the combustion linger and can create serious problems long-term. Asbestos is another typical cause of poor air quality and can usually be found within the insulation of old buildings. Wet and/or damp areas in a building will develop mold over time if left unattended. That mold is another contributing factor to poor air quality.
Per the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are three ways in which outdoor air can impact the quality of the indoor air: infiltration, natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation. Infiltration occurs when outdoor air sneaks through gaps and openings of a building, such as cracks in the foundation. Natural ventilation occurs when air comes in through open doors and windows. Mechanical ventilation occurs within bathroom or kitchen fans that are vented from the outside. All three can occur within a home, office or apartment and will all lead to long-term issues. Weather conditions in a given area will also impact how much and what kind of air infiltrates from outside.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can go about improving indoor air quality.
Change Your Filters
One clue that you have poor air quality is a bad odor. Typically, bad odor stems from faulty air-conditioning filters as well as other air-filters in the house. Filters collect all the pollutants that naturally move through the air. As the filters begin to fill up with the pollutants, they become full and stop working. As a result, those pollutants continue to move through the air and eventually into our bodies.
Air-conditioning filters are not the only ones you should check on and replace. Check on your vacuum filter, dryer filter and other appliance filters, too. These filters all serve the same purpose as the filter in your air conditioning system. So, be sure to check on them and replace them as needed to prevent serious air problems.
Keep a Clean Area
Keeping your home or office space clean will also lead to better air quality. The residue left on the floors, such as food crumbs or dirt coming off shoes, will build up over time if it is not cleaned regularly. When surfaces are not cleaned frequently enough, there is the potential for the development of mold as well as several other issues.
The accumulation of dust is also something to consider. If certain areas are left uncleaned for extended periods, dust can quickly gather in large amounts and cause issues, especially for those with respiratory problems.
If nothing else, keeping a clean area is crucial for breathing in healthy and high-quality air. But, be wary of buying cleaning products that contain a large amount of toxins and chemicals in them. Some are certainly more poisonous than others, so do a little research rather than selecting products at random.
The Plant Debate
Many people believe that keeping plants indoors will benefit the air quality because plants serve as filters that absorb pollutants in the air. However, per Harvard’s health website and Dr. Nicholas BuSaba, this theory is not necessarily true:
“Indoor plants are pretty, but they can also collect and foster the growth of mold. So, if indoor allergens are a problem, you’ll want to avoid them,” says Dr. BuSaba. While some plants are touted as helping to improve indoor air quality because they release oxygen, they are still allergy triggers for many people. On balance, they create more problems than they help,” he says.
So, it may be wise to think twice before thinking about using plants as indoor decor.
Just as the name suggests, an air purifier will benefit the indoor air quality of an area. These devices often do not take up much space and will help remove the contaminants in the air. It may not get rid of 100 percent of the toxins in a room, but it will help. Also, for those who live with someone who smokes, air purifiers will help reduce the toxins that make secondhand smoke dangerous.
Keeping a dehumidifier in your basement is a great idea. It will reduce the humidity and moisture in the air, which will reduce the likelihood of mold growth and long-term poor air quality problems. So, consider installing one in your basement or other areas where you know moisture consistently gathers.
Similar to carbon monoxide, radon is an odorless and colorless gas that can be dangerous to people’s health. So, you must test for it to know if it is present in an area. Many hardware stores offer DIY radon testing kits that are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. However, it is crucial to purchase one that is tested and approved by the EPA to ensure you are getting accurate and safe results. The kits should clearly indicate whether they are certified by the EPA or not.
If you do not want to test for radon yourself, you can hire a professional contractor to do it. Hiring a professional can be especially helpful if you are buying or selling a home and dealing with inspections. Your state radon office can provide a list of certified professionals.
Tobacco smoke can create air quality issues within a home or office space. For example, radio stations that have been around for a long time are dealing with problems because many hosts and DJs used to smoke inside the studios during their on-air shifts when smoking indoors was still commonly accepted. Now, if they have not received the proper care and attention, those studios are dealing with a multitude of problems as a result of the chemicals from the cigarettes.
If you smoke or live with someone who smokes, the best practice is to do it outside to help limit potential issues.
Still Need Help?
If you are concerned about the quality of the air you are breathing indoors and are unsure of what to do, Garden City Plumbing and Heating will help take care of your problem. Contact them today to get in touch with a team of professionals that cares about finding you the right solution.