BEST WAYS TO IMPROVE INDOOR AIR QUALITY
There is much talk about the outside air polluting our environment; damaging our health and it’s true. Deposits from cars, machinery and industrial buildings have affected our surroundings. As a result, there is much effort put in controlling the outdoor air and pollution through green construction, efficiency and waste management in construction projects etc.
Though there is a big misconception that all pollutants and toxics are on the outside and indoor air is clean. The reality is that indoor air is just as damaging as outdoor air and in some cases maybe more.
People spend significant amount of time indoors – either working in home, office or other types of buildings where people are exposed harmful gases and chemicals. These gases can cause eye irritation, headaches and breathing issues. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, environmental hazards for example, asthma which affects 25 million people, can be prevented by having clean air.
A serious pollutant such as radon is also present in indoor air. Radon is a colorless, scentless gas that causes various breathing problems. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency,radon is one of the most prominent causes for lung cancer. The chemical is the reason for 21,000 lung cancer deaths yearly in the US.
How does indoor air quality suffer?
There are various ways through which our indoor air is polluted and can have adverse and damaging effect on our health. Some of the most obvious ones are:
- Discharges and pollutants through ventilations
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from carpeting and furniture
- VOCs from electronics
- Mold from water leaks
- Dust mites and pet dander
- Improperly ventilated spaces
Indoor air can be polluted with ordinary household furniture to the point that in can create allergies and breathing problems but there are ways to improve indoor air quality.
Best ways to improve indoor air quality
Natural Air Ventilation
One of the best and cheapest ways to remove pollutants and toxins from indoor air is to have natural air ventilation. Natural ventilation can be achieved by opening windows and doors, and window shading.
Most of the time, if you are living in a residential area, it’s a good idea to let in some fresh air. A neighbourhood located smack in the city is another story. With cars and machinery that produce pollutants, this might not be the best way to go about it.
Still it is a pretty easy and cost effective way to improve indoor air and can be used most of the time.
Install good HVAC system
A good Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) system is essential to improve indoor air quality. The main purposes of a HVAC system are to provide good quality air through adequate ventilation systems and heating comfort.
The most common misconception that people have is that air conditioners and fire furnaces work the same way when in fact they do nothing to improve the quality of the air. They main function is to change and maintain the temperature. A HVAC system filters VOCs, pollen, mold and various other particles that can cause harm to people.
Clean and maintain air ducts
Duct cleaning refers to the cleaning of various heating and cooling systems that maintain indoor airflow. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, it is imperative to properly install, clean and maintain air ducts as they become contaminated with pollen, dust and other debris. Pollutants stuck on them can cause people to have allergies and breathing issues.
Another important thing to take into account is the growth of mold on ducts. This might happen due to the presence of moisture. Increase in moisture leads to an increase in microbiological growth that will introduce spores into living and working spaces.
So how to deal with this? It is best to let professionals handle such cleaning. Service providers have special equipments that are designed to clean ducts in all parts of the home. A word of advice would be to get the cleaners to clean all of the air ducts in your home or offices. If even one infested duct is left, the mold, pollen and other debris will eventually spread. This will turn out to be a very costly task then.
Always use kitchen ventilation
People often forget to use kitchen ventilations or in some cases, there are no kitchen ventilations at home. It is essential to have kitchen ventilations as its purpose is to remove moisture and grease particles from air. If not removed the moisture will eventually be the source of mold growth in living spaces which is a serious pollutant. Therefore, always use kitchen ventilation and keep them clean through service providers.
A range hood with an exhaust fan leading the air outside is considered the most effective kitchen ventilation system. The hood gathers all the moisture and grease before it disperses into the air, allowing to maintain the moisture level of indoor air.
Effective ventilation is more essential if there is a gas cooking systems. With gas combustion, deposits such as carbon monoxide is released in the air. A hood may work effectively if there is a gas system at home but for commercial use, where the cooking time is extended, it is important to have commercial ventilation systems.
Use green cleaners
Harsh cleaners definitely get the job done but they tend to produce toxic fumes that can damage lungs, cause eye irritation and give headaches. Its best to use green cleaners. Green cleaning products have the Safer Choice label on it.
For the last 15 years the Safer Choice label was called the ‘Design for the Environment’. Recently, EPA has changed it to a different logo but the purpose behind is the same – to help consumers and commercial buyers buy products that are safer to use without any decrease in quality or performance.
[Image source: Environmental Protection Agency]
A product that has a Safer Choice label has zero to low VOCs. Currently, there are 2000 products qualified to carry the label. These products can be found in retail stores and for use can be found in schools, offices etc. Therefore, a safer choice to clean homes and working spaces is available.
With the way the world is progressing, it is important to focus on the impact progression has on the environment. These methods may not do much to help the outdoor air quality but they are the best ways with which we can improve our living and breathing spaces indoors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shaneel is a content marketing assistant at GenieBelt.