In the last five or six decades, air pollution has become one of the biggest problems on our planet.
Outdoor pollution rules the headlines, of course – but the negative effects of poor indoor air quality manifest themselves in other, hidden ways.
Doctor’s bills, missed work/school days, untreated health problems – these are some of the common side effects of living and sleeping in unhealthy air.
According to the EPA, indoor air can be 10 times – even 100 times – more polluted than outdoor air. When you think about it, it makes sense: indoor air is full of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. These chemicals are found in and emitted by everyday household items such as tissues, furniture, leather, paper products, cleaning products etc.
The negative effects of poor indoor air quality manifest themselves in hidden ways.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; there are other harmful particulates such as pet dander, pollen, cigarette smoke and dust mites that are carried into your homes and offices every day, by every single person that comes in or out.
How can you tackle these home invaders? Here are nine steps – simple precautions and tweaks in lifestyle – that you can take to improve the air quality in your home.
No air purifier necessary.
9 Tips to Improve Air Quality Without a Purifier
1Keep all your other filters clean – make sure you regularly clean/replace the filters of all your air conditioning units, heating and ventilation systems. Clogged and dusty filters can be a major source of indoor air pollution.
2Reduce your use of household cleaners and air fresheners – solvent based cleaners are ripe with VOC’s such as Trichloroethylene and toluene. If a cleaner has a strong synthetic fragrance then it’s high on common VOCs. The same goes for air fresheners. Instead use ‘green’ cleaners that are made from natural ingredients. For fragrance, you can place small potted flowers throughout the house, which will not only help with the smell but will also improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide.
3Use vacuums with HEPA filters – make sure you’re using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. Vacuum at least once a week, very thoroughly, to weed out dust mites, pollen, pet dander and other toxins like lead and fire retardant chemicals. For best results, vacuum your busiest places at least twice a week. Be sure to wash/replace the vacuum filter regularly.
4Regularly mop and dust – after vacuuming, mop the floors using a microfiber mop and plain water. Refrain from using surface/floor cleaners. This way any residual dirt or particulates left behind by the vacuum can be cleaned away by the mop. Use microfiber towels to clean other surfaces such as table tops, blinds etc because microfiber towels attract the dust towards them such that it sticks to the cloth, instead of just shifting the dust around or spilling it onto the floor.
5Wash your bedding every week – dust mites can collect between the bed sheet and the mattress, as well as on the pillows and comforters. Remember to wash your bedding in the machine once a week to eliminate any particulates that might cause allergies.
6Hang your coats and take off the shoes near entrances – coats and shoes can bring countless pollutants such as dirt, pet dander, asphalt etc with them. Therefore, it’s best to leave them near the entrance instead of trekking them into your house/office. Otherwise, consider placing mats at all the entrances where the shoes can be dusted off before heading in.
7Control moisture – incase of water damage, be quick to repair it. Your tardiness may let mould set in. Another method of keeping humidity levels low is running the exhaust fan while showering. Potted plants are also effective at absorbing the humidity from the air.
8Air flow, air flow, air flow – today’s air tight homes have practically ensured that there won’t be any cross ventilation. The air needs to circulate and new air needs to come in, otherwise the air will grow stagnant becoming a breeding ground for germs and pollutants. This is why it’s highly recommended to open the windows and let new air come in, at least 3 times every week.
9 Avoid smoking inside – tobacco contains countless pollutants, which is why it’s never healthy to smoke indoors.
Photo credit: Phil Roeder via Flickr CC License