So many of us think that air pollution is a mysterious thing that only affects the outdoor environment. We think that once we head indoors to the comfort of our houses or offices, we’re safe from smoke, dust, smog, and other pollutants. However, what we don’t realize is that the air we breathe inside is more polluted than the outdoor air — two to five times higher, according to the EPA.
And, we spend most of our time indoors — about 90% of our day. So, it’s essential to know what’s negatively impacting your home's air quality. The following are some common pollutants that worsen the air you inhale at home or the office.
What’s Hurting Your Home Air Quality?
What exactly is polluting the air inside your home? Here are a few likely culprits.
Molds are a type of fungi that naturally occurs in the environment. They grow and thrive in damp areas. Molds outside are suitable and even beneficial for the ecosystem but can be problematic when inside.
In your house, mold may appear cottony, velvety, or powdery and may be black or white in color, mostly producing a musty smell. You can find it on walls, furniture, ceilings, bathtubs, pipes, and even inside the washing machine.
Molds reproduce by releasing tiny spores that float and spread through the air. Spores can also enter the house through a ventilation system or open windows. They can even attach themselves to objects, people, or pets.
Cooking or heating by burning fuels, using gas-fired appliances, ovens, charcoal grills, gas-fuel ranges, portable kerosene heaters, and wood stoves contribute to the poor air quality inside your house.
Smoke and fumes produced when cooking emit particulate matter in the air and produce carbon monoxide, which, combined with poor ventilation, can be dangerous to your health and even fatal. Some side effects of carbon monoxide are headaches, dizziness, confusion, and nausea.
To reduce carbon monoxide levels, you should avoid using gas-powered equipment or charcoal grills indoors. Ensure adequate ventilation while cooking, and also service your cooking appliances yearly. Maintenance is key to avoiding potential mishaps.
We don’t usually think twice about spraying our homes to keep away the creepy crawlies. Pesticides are chemicals used to control rodents, insects, mites, bacteria, and fungi inside the house. Their widespread usage in many households hurts indoor air quality. According to the EPA, 80% of most people's pesticide exposure occurs indoors. The EPA also states that 75% of US households use at least one pesticide yearly.
So, how do pesticides find their way inside your house?
- Products used to kill pests (insecticides or termiticides).
- Through contaminated soil or dust that gets tracked in from outside. For example, pesticides may end up inside your house after walking in a garden dusted with pesticides and entering with your shoes on.
- Through stored pesticide containers.
- Household surfaces that collect pesticides, such as rugs or carpets.
Pets are common in our households — 70% of us have one. They’re part of our families and improve the quality of our lives by bringing joy and fulfillment. But despite being good companions, pets can reduce the indoor air quality of your house.
Pets shed their fur, which, when floating in the air, can cause allergic reactions. Pet dander is another common indoor air pollutant. Dander is the dead skin that pets shed and can cause allergic reactions when inhaled. Pets can also carry dust and pollen inside after a walk, worsening indoor air quality.
5. Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are harmful chemicals with low water solubility and high vapor pressure. They are organic chemicals that evaporate and become gases at average room temperature.
VOCs are very common in our homes. According to EPA, the concentration level of VOCs is two to five times higher inside than outside. Furthermore, during and after certain activities such as painting, VOC levels may be 1,000 times more intense indoors.
Common sources of VOCs inside the house are:
- Building materials.
- Aerosol sprays.
- Air fresheners.
- Cleaning products.
- Office equipment.
- Wood preservatives.
How Can You Improve Your Indoor Air Quality?
While you can’t necessarily control the air quality outdoors, rest assured that you have more say when it comes to the air you breathe indoors.
1. Use an Air Purifier
An air purifier is one of the most effective ways to clean indoor air. It’s important, however, to find an air purification system that can rise to the challenge of cleansing your indoor breathing air. Looking for layers of protection like a medical-grade HEPA 13 filter, activated carbon filter, and UV-C light.
2. Vacuum and Clean Your House Frequently
It’s essential to vacuum your house frequently, especially if you have carpets and pets. Aim to wash your pets' bedding, as well as your own, once a week. Disinfect high-touch areas, like doorknobs and counters, daily.
3. Ensure Proper Ventilation
Inadequate ventilation leads to the build-up of carbon monoxide and other pollutants, which can cause health problems. Proper ventilation removes polluted air by replacing it with clean and fresh air. Open your windows frequently (as long as the outdoor air is safe — visit AirNow.gov to check), use electric fans, and ensure your chimney works efficiently.
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4. Control Moisture in Your House
Mold thrives in damp areas in your house. Ventilation helps prevent it. Also, wipe wet surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom, fix leaking pipes, and ensure all clothes, carpets, and rugs stay dry. Additionally, use a dehumidifier to control the moisture level in the house.
Having fresh and clean air to breathe inside your home is crucial to your overall health. Identifying the major air pollutants in your house helps you proactively eradicate these dangerous particles, giving you cleaner air to breathe. Shop with Sans today for air purification reimagined.