Although you might not realize it, your home’s indoor air is filled with many different kinds of pollutants—and when these pollutants are ignored, they can build up in large amounts that could cause or exacerbate certain health problems, particularly in regards to your respiratory system.
From dust to pet dander to mold and carbon monoxide, pollutants in the air can come in all shapes and sizes, and they can get trapped in your circulating indoor air unless you have a system in place to clean your indoor air and mitigate the presence of these pollutants. Here’s a look at the factors that affect indoor air quality, along with some tips to improve the quality of this air in your home.
What Factors Impact Indoor Air Quality?
The quality of your indoor air is affected by a number of different factors, many of which may vary from one home to the next—and some which may vary for your own home by season. These common factors include the following:
- The presence, or lack thereof, of central heating and cooling. This circulated heating and cooling system features filters and functionality to remove particulates and moisture from the air.
- Indoor humidity levels. High humidity levels can produce a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
- How often windows are opened to circulate new air. While outdoor air may bring in allergens that degrade indoor air quality for some individuals, in general outdoor air can clear out the buildup of pollutants in your home, refreshing the quality of your home’s air. During times of the year when you can have the windows open, your indoor air quality will likely improve. If windows are kept shut, though, this can increase the concentration of pollutants in your home’s air.
- Indoor smoking. Tobacco products and other forms of smoking contribute significantly to the pollutants in your home’s air.
- Household cleaning products. Harsh chemicals can be released into the air from cleaning products, increasing indoor air pollution.
- Carpet and furniture. If you’ve recently installed new carpet or purchased new furniture, pollutants from the construction process may be released into your home’s air, providing another source of indoor air pollution.
The Benefits of Indoor Air Quality Testing
To better understand their indoor air quality—and to keep pollutants at a safe level—some households prefer to use an indoor air quality monitor to keep tabs on the level of pollutants in the air, and whether additional mitigation efforts should be taken to improve indoor air safety.
Standalone devices can be purchased to monitor these levels, and some even offer mobile app functionality to send alerts and notifications to your phone. While some of these devices are more reliable than others, monitoring and testing can offer some valuable insights and surprises into the quality of your indoor air, and they can help you identify potentially unsafe air pollution levels before they cause complications for your health.
How to Improve Air Quality in Your Home
Even if your indoor air quality is poor, there’s good news: With some simple changes and remediation efforts, you can improve indoor air quality in your home and foster a healthy breathing environment. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Change air filters on furnaces, fans, and other devices that circulate air. In some cases, poor air quality is a product of dirty filters that allow too much debris to pass through. By regularly changing these filters—every one to three months for most appliances, or whenever you notice a buildup of dust on the filter—you can reduce dust, dander and other particulates in the air.
- Purchase standalone air purifiers. If you’re working to reduce a high concentration of pollutants in your indoor air, an air purifier can help you achieve this. Place purifiers in rooms where air pollution has built up, and run them constantly to filter air as it circulates throughout your home.
- Open windows daily, if possible. Even a few minutes of fresh air can clear out pollutants and bring in cleaner air for your home. The longer these windows are able to stay open, the more you’ll be able to refresh this indoor air.
- Run a dehumidifier to reduce air moisture. A dehumidifier can help control indoor humidity and reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew growths.
Do HEPA Filters Remove Viruses?
HEPA filters offer strong air filtration both as standalone air filter solutions, and as HVAC HEPA filters installed into your furnace or air conditioner. To some degree, these HEPA filters are successful at removing some viruses from your home’s air. However, the size of these viruses makes them capable of slipping through a HEPA filter, so these filters shouldn’t be viewed as a comprehensive, reliable solution to remove all viral material from the air.
While you can use a HEPA filter as one method of pulling viral material out of the air, other preventative measures should be used to minimize your potential exposure to any airborne viruses.
Once you’ve addressed the pollutants in your indoor air, keep up these cleaning and mediation practices to keep pollutants under control, and to avoid future situations where indoor air pollution is posing a health risk to everyone in your home. If you need help addressing indoor air quality, contact an expert today for professional assistance.