While air pollution is considered by many to only happen outdoors, indoor air may be much more polluted than the air outside. While it’s important to have a well-sealed home, airtightness can impact your indoor air quality by limiting fresh air flow. Unfortunately, stale indoor air usually means more allergens and irritants circulating through the house. Even with more allergy-inducing pollutants like dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander trapped inside our homes, we still spend a significant amount of time indoors. For people who have respiratory issues or allergies, increased levels of exposure may worsen their problems. Here are five methods for improving indoor air quality.
1. Improving Indoor Air Quality by Increasing Ventilation
Modern homes are designed to provide an airtight seal that keeps the home climate controlled and promotes energy efficiency. Because of this, airtight homes are not well ventilated. Fortunately, ventilation can be achieved through your HVAC system and fans so it’s an easy fix. If the home is not ventilated well or the HVAC is poorly maintained, pollutants like dust particles, lead, formaldehyde, radon, and fire-retardants can reach high concentrations. When released into your indoor air, these contaminants can harm the home’s occupants.
2. Schedule Regular HVAC Inspections
Proper HVAC maintenance is helpful when it comes to improving indoor air quality. Improper care of your system makes your home susceptible to mold growth and other problems. Schedule regular HVAC inspections and have your system cleaned. Change out or clean the air filter as often as your HVAC model’s manual says to do so.
3. Maintain Good Housekeeping
Accumulated organic dust accounts for many of the contaminants in your home. Fortunately, regular cleaning can help remove these particles. Here are some housekeeping tips for improving indoor air quality:
• Use a vacuum that has rotating brushes, strong suction, and a HEPA filter so that dust particles don’t get blown back out through the exhaust.
• Mop surfaces to capture any lingering particles. Microfiber mops and dust cloths can help remove the particles left behind by vacuum cleaners and won’t require using any cleaning solutions.
• Put floor mats at every door to keep people from tracking in contaminants on the soles of their shoes.
• Opt for cooking on a grill outside instead of cooking inside whenever you can.
4. Keep Low Levels of Humidity
Mold, dust mites, and other allergens love moisture. Maintaining a healthy humidity level of 30-50 percent is one way of keeping such pollutants under control and improving indoor air quality. Dehumidifiers can also help reduce moisture while air conditioners can help lower the indoor pollen count during summer. The following dehumidifying tips can be used to prevent mold growth:
• Fix leaks and other plumbing issues
• Don’t overwater your houseplants
• Vent the dryer outside
• Open windows when running the dishwasher, cooking, or bathing
5. Decorate with Healthy Houseplants
It’s true that indoor plants can collect and foster mold growth if overwatered. However, some types of houseplants can help eliminate toxins from indoor air. According to research, the foliage and roots of some houseplants absorb certain VOCs. These plants have been shown to remove toxic agents like formaldehyde and benzene at a slow rate. When it comes to improving indoor air quality, plants should be used in combination with the other methods outlined above.