You might think there’s little more to improving your indoor air quality than keeping your house neat as a pin by vacuuming, dusting, and scrubbing regularly. Unfortunately, cleaning surfaces is only one of the steps you’ll need to take if you want to achieve healthy and breathable air in your living spaces. EPA studies have revealed that the average interior air is 2-5 times more polluted than air outside the home, which is difficult to believe considering rampant pollution and the scads of allergens typical to external environments. And yet, you have to realize that you’re living in an enclosed space where particulates can build up with no means of escape. The good news is that you have a large measure of control over the quality of your interior air. Here are just a few easy and effective solutions to common indoor air quality problems.
A relatively easy issue to deal with is the presence of dust and dander, which mainly comes from you, although pets are also responsible for shedding the dead skin cells that make up the majority of particulates in your air. And no matter how diligent you are about cleaning yourself, your pets, and your home, these pollutants will continue to accumulate. Frequent cleaning is necessary and a good place to start, but you might also want to consider removing plush surfaces from your home if you happen to suffer from allergies or asthma related to dust and dander. These surfaces not only attract such particles, releasing them into the air when you walk on carpeting, sit on furniture, or open and close the drapes, but they’re fairly difficult to keep clean. Hard surfaces are a better choice when it comes to reducing the dust and dander in your home.
Of course, a bigger issue for many homeowners is the relative airtightness of the structure. When leaks are present, you’re not only allowing the air you pay for to escape through the cracks (decreasing efficiency and increasing your energy bill), but you’re also letting outside air in, along with any pollutants it may contain. A home energy audit can help you to target these areas of waste in order to seal them up, but there’s an additional problem inherent to this scenario. You might think your indoor air quality problems are solved at this point, but inadequate ventilation could cause even greater harm.
Airtightness is important for keeping exterior allergens and pollutants out. But you still need fresh air cycling through your space or you could suffer all kinds of health hazards. For example, you might see an increase in moisture without proper ventilation, leading to the growth of mold, mildew, bacteria, dust mites, and all kinds of particulates that compromise air quality. Of course, there are a variety of ways to treat such issues. You could, for example, install ultraviolet lights in your ducts to eliminate these health hazards as they cycle through your central air. Or you might want to attach a HEPA filtration system to your HVAC to trap and lock in particulates as small as 0.3 microns (including bacteria). But the best overall solution is to install proper ventilation, ensuring a flow of clean, breathable air into your space.