Air pollution is not just limited to smog or haze that is present in the external atmosphere, but is also there inside our offices and homes. The air inside your house may be polluted by formaldehyde, radon, lead, fire-retardants and volatile chemicals from fragrances present in conventional cleaners. Microscopic dust mites, mold, allergens and pet dander also pollute the indoor air. Elderly people, asthma patients and children are especially sensitive to these indoor air pollutants.
Since people spend most of their time indoors these days and modern homes are mostly airtight, the level of indoor irritants and allergens has risen by many folds in the recent decades. People equally get exposed to unhealthy pollutants indoors and thereby contract more diseases by breathing in this harmful indoor air. However, by following the below mentioned 5 simple steps, we can easily improve the indoor air quality.
5 Ways to Improve the Quality of Indoor Air
Keep the Floors Fresh and Clean to Improve Indoor Air Quality
- Sucking Up The Dust: Allergens and chemicals get collected in the household dust for long durations. Lead is present in the paint coating of the walls of the house. Lead particles from chipped paint can combine with the dust and elevate the risk of severe health problems. It can also damage the central nervous system, brain and kidneys. Children are more vulnerable to increased lead exposure because they tend to get dust on their fingers and then put the fingers in their mouths. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter can help us decrease the concentration of lead present in our homes. It can also help us eliminate the harmful toxins like brominated flame retardant chemicals and also allergens like dust mites, pollen and pet dander. One should use a vacuum cleaner, which has powerful HEPA filter, strong suction and rotating brushes. Dust mostly accumulates in carpet edges, walls and upholstered furniture. Vacuuming these spots at least two or more times per week and washing out the filter regularly can help us get rid of dust effectively and keep the house fresh and clean.
- Mopping Up The Dust: The dust left behind by the vacuum cleaner can be effectively picked up by a mop. One can use plain water to mop the floors and clear the lingering allergens and dust and thus improve indoor air quality. The latest microfiber dust cloth and mops pick up more dirt and dust compared to the traditional fibres.
- Using Door Mats To Keep The Dust Out: When people enter our homes, they bring in all kinds of germs, bacteria and chemicals through dirt on their shoes. A doormat can help solve this problem by reducing the amount of dirt, allergens, chemicals and other pollutants that enter the house and pollute the indoor air. Putting a big floor mat at the door, on which people can wipe their shoes, can help limit the entry of pollutants to keep the floors and the overall house clean. Further, one should ask people to remove their shoes and socks near the door before entering the house to promote cleanliness in the house and to improve indoor air quality.
Maintain Healthy Levels of Humidity Indoors to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Molds and dust mites thrive well in moist conditions. So, maintaining the indoor humidity levels at 30% to 50% can prove to be helpful in keeping molds and termites along with other allergens in check and keep the indoor air quality fresh and healthy. An air conditioner during summer months and a dehumidifier can adequately decrease the indoor moisture levels and also control the growth of allergens. Other tips and tricks for dehumidifying the indoor air are:
- The clothes dryer should be vented to the outside of the house.
- Leaky pipes should be fixed immediately to prevent the growth of molds.
- Exhaust fan should be used or windows should be kept open when running the dishwasher, bathing or cooking.
- House plants should not be over watered.
- Drip pans in the dehumidifier and window air conditioner should be cleaned and emptied regularly.
Never Smoke Indoors to Improve Indoor Air Quality
One of the most well-known causes of indoor air pollution is the second-hand smoke from cigarettes. More than 4000 chemicals are present in this harmful cigarette smoke, which greatly harms the quality of indoor air. Studies have shown that this cigarette smoke can cause breathing troubles, stroke, heart attack and cancer in the smoker. It can also cause health issues like asthma, respiratory infections, ear infections and cancers in people living around a smoker. People should try and quit smoking for the sake of their own life and the lives of their dear ones as well. With the help of certain medications, nicotine-replacement therapy and support groups, one can easily quit the habit of smoking. Even if they cannot quit, cigarette smokers should always remember to smoke outside the house and never inside their homes and thus greatly improve indoor air quality.
Keep Radon in Control to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Radon is an odourless and colourless radioactive gas present in our homes that can significantly increase the risk of lung cancer and also pollute the quality of indoor air. Radon is produced during the natural decay of the uranium present in nearly all soils. It rises from the soil and enters the house through holes and cracks in the foundation. If one smokes inside a house containing high levels of radon, the chances of lung cancer become higher. It has also been proven that even granite countertops emit some amount of radon. High radon levels can be tuned down to acceptable levels by practicing simple and cost effective radon reduction methods.
Use Natural Fragrances to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Synthetic fragrances present in air fresheners and laundry products emit lot of different chemicals in the indoor air. Conventional dryer sheets, air fresheners, fabric softeners and laundry detergents, whether in oil, spray or solid form, all emit such harmful gases.
Studies have shown that some plug-in air fresheners emit up to 20 different hazardous organic compounds and thus greatly affect the quality of indoor air, which we breathe. Mostly derived from petroleum products, these fragrances are generally tested for skin irritations, but hardly for any other negative health effects in humans. A group of chemicals known as Phthalates are generally used to soften plastic also often used in fragrances. Studies have shown that phthalates can disturb the hormonal balance of the body. To avoid these negative effects, it is advisable to use naturally scented or fragrance-free laundry and other products. Some other ways to eliminate these hazardous compounds from the indoor air are:
- Use baking soda and sliced lemon to get rid of the smell in the kitchen.
- Use of aerosol sprays like carpet cleaners, deodorants, air fresheners, furniture polish and hair sprays should be stopped.
- One should switch to mild cleaners, which are free of artificial fragrances.
- Windows should be kept opened to let the fresh air enter the house. This will also prevent the accumulation of toxic chemical in the indoor air. Well ventilated rooms can help ease problems like pollen allergy and asthma too and also improve indoor air quality.
- Placing potted plants like aloe vera, spider plant, or ferns inside the house not only make the home look prettier, but also stay naturally healthy. Indoor plants are natural air purifiers that absorb the chemical pollutants, which are released by synthetic materials.
Thus by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practicing hygiene and following the above mentioned easy ways of enhancing the quality of indoor air, one can make their house clean and fragrant, keep illnesses at bay and stay healthy even indoors.