When people think about air pollution, they mostly think about outdoor smoke and fog. However, indoor air quality is equally important, as an article published in the science journal Nature states that over 3 million people have been killed by high levels of air pollutants indoors. Whether it’s due to mold, secondhand smoke, or chemicals from paints and fabrics, poor indoor air quality can also trigger allergic reactions and increase the risk of respiratory and heart conditions. But homeowners don’t have to panic. There are many ways to improve the air quality in your home in order to protect your and your family’s health and well-being. We outline a few of them below.
Consider air quality tests
There are now indoor air quality monitors that can provide measurements for humidity, temperature, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which come from paints, fabrics, and building materials. However, it is still recommended to get air quality tests done by professionals to identify specific pollutants or contaminants in your home. This is especially important if you’ve recently moved into the property or observed the telltale signs of poor indoor air quality, such as mold growth, stuffy and stale air, or a strong and musty smell. Since general air quality tests can get expensive, you can start with home tests for radon gas, which is a naturally occurring toxin that can seep into foundation cracks or basement pumps. These tests can cost $10 to $30, but there are also local health departments that provide them for free depending on where you live.
Maintain your HVAC system
Your home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system doesn’t just regulate temperature. As the HVAC system cycles through the air and helps with indoor airflow, it also filters out pollutants. One way to keep your HVAC system in top condition is to have clean air conditioning units. Whether you use a split type, portable, or window AC unit, you’ll need to regularly maintain it by removing the air filter and brushing off the accumulated dust and debris before reinstalling it. There can also be contaminant buildup in other parts like the evaporator, condenser coils, or cooling fins, so it’s best to thoroughly rinse and dry these parts to ensure your AC works properly. Meanwhile, heating systems like furnaces must be serviced at least once a year throughout their lifetime.
Clean your rugs and carpets regularly
Rugs and carpets may enhance a room’s style, but they also tend to trap dirt, dust, allergens, and other airborne pollutants on their surface. The American Lung Association also notes that new carpets and rugs are typically made and installed with toxic adhesives and VOCs. As such, it’s crucial to deep clean your rugs and carpets, either by annually dry steam cleaning or frequently using vacuum cleaners with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. It’s also advisable to keep your kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways carpet-free in order to prevent mold growth. Instead, use durable, non-slip mats to limit dirt and stain from high foot traffic.
Add indoor plants to your space
Plants are known to be natural air filters. Adding fresh flowers, plants, and greenery to your living space does not only result in elevated home decor, but also improves overall air quality. In fact, a research review published by Wageningen Plant Research in 2017 found that specific VOCs and fine particles like aldehydes are assimilated in plant leaves, while roots play an important role in air purification. Your best options for plants that keep indoor air clean and safe are elegant areca palms, lush dracaena or dragon plants, and striking yet healing aloe vera leaves.
Article was written by Rosie Jeffers on behalf of Lauren Ashley Design.