Whether you’re indoors or outside, the quality of the air you breathe can have a huge impact on your health. Studies have tied poor outdoor air quality to lung cancer, strokes, and heart disease, among other health hazards. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, air pollution causes 3.3 million deaths worldwide each year.
However, the air inside your home is typically even more polluted than the air outside, asserts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)!
Would it shock you to know that the air you’re breathing indoors can be up to 5 times worse than the air outside?
That’s because these air pollutants are often enclosed and less ventilated, meaning it’s easier for air pollutants to enter your home but quite challenging to get them out. Unchecked, these pollutants can trigger allergies, asthma attacks, and can even instigate life-threatening respiratory diseases in the long run.
The effects of indoor air pollution
If you or a family member has allergies, you probably know how air pollutants can affect you negatively. But what about someone without any such conditions?
Everyone acts differently to indoor air pollutants, depending on their specific sensitivities. Reactions can include allergy-like indicators such as eyes, nose, and throat irritation or headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
As just noted, certain long-term indoor air pollutants are associated with respiratory disease; however, heart disease and cancer are also known to be related to such indoor pollutants. Radon, invisible gas that’s the second leading cause of lung cancer, is an example of such a pollutant.
The Chief Culprits
There is a variety of reasons your indoor air can be polluted. According to the EPA, some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and electronics, can release pollutants almost nonstop. Other sources, like smoking, cleaning, or renovating, can release pollutants sporadically. Unvented or faulty appliances can also release potentially unsafe levels of pollutants indoors.
If you occupy an older home, you may also have to worry about asbestos and lead exposure, both of which can cause sizable long-term health problems.
Certain chemicals in the air can trigger harmful reactions as well.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gases released from a number of common household products, including paints, cleaning supplies, even the perfume your spray on your skin every day.
VOCs include a sizable group of chemicals, some with more troublesome would-be side effects than others. Several, like benzene, are known carcinogens. Cigarette smoke is a chief source of benzene exposure. However, it can also be detected in specific household items such as glue, paint, furniture wax, and detergent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
If your think spraying scented air freshener will clean your air, think again. That scent is another form of indoor air pollution, and most air fresheners just release more potentially harmful chemicals into your home.
Note:U.S. consumers spend over $1.6 billion for air fresheners each year.
There are, of course, various ways to remove air pollutants at home. One of the best ways is to invest in a high-quality air purifier (which we’ll discuss later). Perhaps you’re iffy about investing in an air purifier, though, and would rather go a more natural and/or economical route to cleanse the air in your home; there are a number of substitute air purifying techniques available.
Clean your home regularly
Limiting the contaminants and allergens in your air is an ongoing effort, one that requires lots of regular cleaning. This might seem rather obvious, but cleaning on a regular basis will make a huge difference.
Vacuum with a vengeance! Vacuuming is especially important, but not just the floors. Walls, carpet edges, and upholstered furniture also need to be thoroughly and regularly vacuumed.
In fact, a good vacuum will likely be one of your most important weapons in the fight against poor indoor air quality. Get one with a high-efficiency air (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters trap the smallest microscopic particles, so your vacuum doesn’t blow these contaminants back into the air.
Use natural cleaners
The weekly use of cleaning products introduces a variety of chemicals into a home. Think about using natural cleaning products like white vinegar or baking soda in order to fight grime. Other suitable options include hydrogen peroxide and club soda that will clean just as well without chemicals’ residual effects.
Making every effort to help purify the air within your home is important to your family’s health and well-being.
Cleaning and the Coronavirus
Before going any further, it’s important to understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning refers to the removal of germs and dirt from surfaces, but it does not kill pathogens; if any are left behind, they remain active.
Disinfecting does kill germs on surfaces — if you do it properly. That’s what you want if the coronavirus is in your household or if you suspect that someone in your home has been exposed to it. The virus can live for up to three days on some surfaces, such as plastic and stainless steel.
The EPA’s list of disinfectants that have been tested and are effective at killing the coronavirus includes products made with bleach, isopropyl alcohol, quaternary ammonium compounds (or “quats”), and others.
The fact that there are few natural green cleaners on the EPA’s coronavirus-killing list “doesn’t mean that natural cleaning products won’t work; it just means they haven’t been tested,” says Bill Wuest, a chemistry professor at Emory University in Atlanta.
He explains that the EPA only gives approval to a cleaning product if it follows its own protocol for being tested on a specific virus.
The bottom line: you can use any “green” or traditional product for basic cleaning, but for disinfecting, especially if you’re living with someone with or at risk of contracting the coronavirus, stick to items on the EPA’s list of products proven effective against the coronavirus.
This information was excerpted from an article in The Washington Post (8/11/2020)
Take off your shoes!
The dirty outside can carry some really yucky stuff such as coal tar, cigarette ash, pesticides, fungal spores, lead dust, pollen, industrial toxins, dust mites, and who knows what else, into your home.
It’ll help keep your air cleaner, not to mention your floors.
Change those air filters
You’ve read this in previous blogs, but it certainly bears repeating. At the beginning of the heating season (as well as the onset of the cooling season), it’s important to replace your furnace filter. Truth is, it’s one of the easiest ways that you can purify the air within your home.
Note: Make sure there are not any gaps or loose edges when fitting the air filter into place. They should be snug and secure.
For maximum benefit, you should purchase a HEPA filter to clean the air of contaminants in your home effectively.
Increase ventilation in your home
Ventilating homes decreases moisture, a chief problem for indoor air quality. No, we’re not asking you to open a window and let all the outdoor air pollution enter your living space. Instead, think about installing trickle vents to purify and cycle the air you breathe indoors.
Another option is to use exhaust fans, which help carry pollutants outside. Make it a point to ventilate your kitchen since cooking can be a significant source of indoor air pollution, especially if you have a gas stove. Scientists who measured indoor air quality learned that cooking a single meal on a gas stove can generate nitrogen dioxide levels that the EPA considers unsafe to breathe.
After you take a shower, be sure to vent out all the steam and extra moisture in the air as they can cause mold and mildew.
Activated charcoal is a natural air purifier
Activated charcoal, also known as active carbon, has long been used in filters to purify air and water. It’s even being used in different beauty products today. The charcoal’s porous structure removes bacteria, harmful pollutants, and allergens from the air and absorbs moisture, preventing mildew and mold by trapping the impurities inside each pore.
So is a salt lamp
When the 200-million-year-old crystallized salt is heated by the small bulb inside, it releases negative ions, which are known to neutralize pollutants in the air. They are sold in many different sizes and shapes, so it’s wise to find a lamp with a weight appropriate for the size of the room it will be used in.
You can leave the lamp on at night since the natural orange glow doesn’t disrupt sleep hormones.
Opt for essential oil diffusers
Some essential oils, like tea tree oil, have antibacterial properties and can be added to homemade household cleaners or even applied topically to your skin to treat a small cut.
But did you know these oils can also reduce airborne bacteria? Essential oils like eucalyptus, clove, and rosemary have been proven to help reduce the number of dust mites in your home, too.
Opt for beeswax candles. too
Beeswax candles have the ability to ionize the air and neutralize toxic compounds and contaminants. They not only improve the quality of the air in our homes, but they also burn slowly, so they don’t need to be replaced often.
Invest in some indoor plants
Believe it or not, plants are nature’s air purifiers. We’ve known for ages that plants help you breathe better by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing clean oxygen. But, according to a study by NASA, certain plants are better at eliminating significant amounts of benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene than others.
According to the study, the top workhorse plants for air purification are Golden Pothos, Peace Likely, Boston Fern, Snake Plant, English Ivy, Dracaena, Bamboo Palm, Dragon Tree, Lady Palm, and Spider Plant.
It’s suggested that you have at least one plant per 100 square feet of home for efficient air cleaning to be achieved.
Invest in a quality air purifier
It’s proven that the use of air purifiers can significantly improve the air quality in your home.
Perhaps the first question that is asked is, “Should I choose one air purifier that will cover the entire house or multiple purifiers for individual rooms?”
Room air purifiers are suited for smaller areas. They are usually programmable and portable, which is handy. If you have seasonal allergies, you can use them needed and store them for later use. If you need more than one in-room air purifier, you may save money with a whole-house system.
Whole-house systems are more cost-effective because they cover more square footage than in-room units. They can also increase your HVAC system’s lifespan and energy efficiency. Whole-house air filters are usually integrated into your air conditioning system, so they are less noisy and out of sight. They can also be programmed through your thermostat.
At J&A South Park, we offer the finest in air purifiers with the REME HALO whole home in-duct air purifier, the next generation of indoor air quality technology capable of purifying every cubic inch of air that your central A/C system reaches.
The REME HALO air purifier features higher ionized hydroperoxide output, which gives faster kill rates for microbial contaminants in the air as well as on surfaces.
This higher output also drops more particulates from the air, bringing relief to those who suffer from allergies and other respiratory issues.
Here is a concise summary of the most significant benefits of investing in the REME HALO air purifier: Reduces airborne particulates like dust, pollen, dander, and microbes. Kills up to 99 percent of the bacteria, viruses, and microbial growth in your home.
To learn more about the REME HALO view the following information: