As the number of COVID-19 cases swelled across 2020 and 2021, working from home also saw a massive spike. Companies around the globe were given no choice but to shut down their offices and send employees home to work remotely.
By March of 2020, 704 out of 800 companies had already put remote working policies in place. In another Gartner survey among CFOs and finance leaders, over two-thirds (74%) reported planning to permanently shift to remote work even after the COVID-19 crisis. Even big names in the industry like Twitter have followed the trend, announcing in May of 2020 that employees are given the option to work from home indefinitely.
Working from home seems like an incredible perk to many employees and employers. No traffic jams, no pesky coworkers, no money spent on commuting or expensive office lunches. You get to work at your own pace and in a comfortable environment that you actually enjoy working in.
But working from home also raises an important question: How can you maintain your health while you’re there?
More specifically, we’re talking about the air you breathe. If you think you're safe from airborne contaminants because you’re in the safety of your own residence, think again.
While you may be protected from COVID-19, you could still be living with potential threats to your health and that of the people living with you.
So, what are possible threats to the air quality at home that you should be looking out for?
4 Threats to Air Quality at Home
No matter how often you clean your home, dust is inevitable. Dust is an umbrella term that refers to a combination of varying particles including dirt, pollen, dead skin cells, hair, fabric fibers, smoke, wood ash, chemicals, and vehicle exhaust. But even more concerning is that researchers discovered 45 potentially toxic chemicals in dust samples from different households across 14 states. Some of the chemicals involved were associated with serious health conditions, particularly towards children’s health.
Dust compromises the air quality of your home, and thus also your health.
Don’t forget to read our blog all about where dust comes from.
Pet dander, the tiny flecks of skin that animals shed, is another common air pollutant. Because it stays in the air longer than dust mites do, animal dander can easily settle on pieces of furniture and clothing for longer periods of time.
Dander is found almost everywhere, even in places without pets. If you or a family member is allergic to pets, breathing animal dander can worsen your respiratory system.
Mold is a type of fungus that is formed in moist and warm environments. Mold found outdoors is crucial in breaking down decayed plant and animal life. At-home mold, on the other hand, can deteriorate your home and cause health problems through the spores that it produces.
While typically harmless in small amounts, mold spores can cause allergy-like symptoms and worsen respiratory ailments like allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
Paints, varnishes, and many cleaning and disinfecting products in your home contain organic chemicals. Once released in the air at room temperature, these chemicals turn into volatile organic chemicals or VOCs. Long exposure to VOCs, which can be two to five times higher the amount indoors than outside, has been linked to various medical conditions such as childhood leukemia, developmental problems, and birth defects, to name a few.
Now that you know about some of the threats to the air quality inside your home, what can you do about it? Here are a few helpful hints.
How to Improve Air Quality While Working From Home
Dust, dander, and other particles are constantly floating through the air in your home while you work. Improving the air quality at home — and keeping it that way for as long as possible — requires vigilance and consistency.
If you want to keep the air clean in your home at all times, don’t wait until you see air contaminants settle on surfaces. Prevention is better than cure. Changing your sheets weekly, taking your shoes off when you’re inside the house to keep outdoor pollutants from coming in, a thorough vacuuming and wipe-down once a week, or even once a day (especially in areas and furniture that you frequently use) will go a long way toward eliminating threats to the air quality at home.
When you clean, follow the top to bottom order. Wiping your surfaces first using a damp cloth or a microfiber duster will trap particles. Vacuuming furniture and drapes afterward helps to remove any remaining dirt that may have scattered across surfaces and prevent dirt buildup.
Essentially, cleaning your home regularly is a good habit to have.
Invest in an Air Purifier That Traps Particles Large and Small
Air purifiers trap bacteria, fungi, and other chemical pollutants that can’t be easily cleaned or removed, such as carbon monoxide.
Having an air purifier that uses a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter — the multi-layered meshes made from fiberglass threads — like Sans’ air purifier, is an efficient method of trapping even the smallest of particles that linger in the air of your home.
Sans’ air purifier has a three-stage filtration system that consists of a pre-filter, a HEPA 13 filter, and an activated carbon filler. The activated carbon filter neutralizes chemical contaminants through a highly porous form of carbon that traps them, helping to recycle fresh air back into your home.
Proper ventilation is essential in controlling temperature indoors. It also helps keep your air clean by removing or diluting indoor airborne pollutants through the continuous circulation of the air through the house.
Installing a vent fan in your bathroom or keeping the windows open after showering reduces condensation and humidity — the ideal environment where mold thrives, therefore reducing the chances of mold forming. The same goes for areas like the laundry room and kitchen, which are also prone to dampness.
In such a stressful time, working from home has been a positive change for many of us. Now, we just need to take the steps to ensure that our work-from-home environment is conducive to better health.