Would you believe it if someone told you that the air inside your home/office is much more polluted than the air outside? What if you were told that it is actually more dangerous to be inside your house/office than outside because of all the harmful allergens that you are inhaling and living with on a daily basis? Tough to accept, isn’t it? It is, however, very true and also a very pertinent risk to yourself and your family. And that is why it’s a priority to improve the indoor air quality of your home.
Indoor air pollution is a very grave concern as of late, and studies have found that the quality of indoor air has deteriorated over the years. Although seemingly invisible, these pollutants are harmful to your health and can have detrimental effects with prolonged exposure.
Substances like radon, fire retardants, lead, chemicals from fragrances used in cleaners, allergens that come with new furniture, carpets, a new coat of paint, dust mites, air conditioning, and pet dander, all cause the air quality of indoor spaces to be compromised.
It is possible to improve this situation and bring it under control using a variety of methods. Here are some ways to improve the quality of indoor air and reduce pollution inside your home.
1. Clean your floors and carpets regularly
Be it an office, home, or any other indoor space, clean floors are a very important prerequisite. Sweeping and mopping is one way to ensure that the daily settling of dust and other substances, as well as any kind of spillage, is cleaned up. If the floor is carpeted, then vacuuming is the way to go. Also, keeping a doormat and floor mats at various places ensures that people clean their shoes while entering and keep wiping their feet so as not to drag more dirt through the house.
2. Use natural cleaning products
Artificial fragrances contain a host of chemicals that are released into the air whenever used. These chemicals are synthetic and harmful. Laundry soaps, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and air fragrances in any form emit these chemicals every time they are used. They can cause hormone imbalances, skin irritations, and harm to the lungs with prolonged use.
The human brain is conditioned to believe that a lemony or piney scent means ‘clean’. However, the truth is far from it. Switch to non-toxic cleaners or fragrance-free products. Also, check for natural forms of aerosol sprays. Use products like baking soda and lemon for that lemony scent.
Aromatherapy is another good solution. Certain products, like naturally scented candles, provide a soothing effect, whilst also purifying the air by absorbing or getting rid of the harmful allergens.
3. Make use of Indoor Air Quality Monitors
A huge part of the toxins in our homes are invisible to us. For example, you cannot know whether your home has high carbon dioxide levels unless you test for it. Air humidity level is another factor for the growth of mold and dust mites indoors. A higher content of moisture becomes the perfect ground for these allergens to thrive. The expected percentage of air humidity is 30% to 50%.
Air quality monitors help keep a track of this level. If it exceeds beyond 60%, then you need to take preventive measures. Dehumidifiers, air purifiers, and air conditioners help keep the moisture in control, along with the allergens. However before you splash out for an air purifier, you need to identify problem areas in your home. That’s is why an air quality monitor comes first.
Related: Best indoor air quality monitors
4. Check for radon levels
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed when Uranium decays naturally. This gas is present in almost all kinds of soil, so if you have a garden or plants in your vicinity, you should get the air tested for radon. The gas moves up through the soil and into buildings through gaps or holes in the foundation. If your home or office doesn’t have a basement or is drafty, then there is a good chance of radon presence. Radon is responsible for causing lung cancer and is the second leading cause of the same in the US. Testing for radon is simple and inexpensive, as are the controlling methods.
5. Take advantage of natural ventilation
Open your doors and windows to allow natural ventilation of air. Remember, no matter how bad the air outside is, the air inside is probably worse. This is especially true in homes with a closed loop ventilation system. Toxins that have built up from different sources accumulate inside when ventilation is poor.
When you open your windows, the flow of air through the house or office reduces the build-up of allergens indoors. It also allows clean, fresh air to pass through an otherwise closed space, and that can never be bad for health, right?
6. Harness the air purifying power of indoor plants
Small potted plants like a fern, aloe vera, English Ivy, Chrysanthemum, Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Snake Plant, Gerber Daisies, or Azaleas are known to be very effective in controlling indoor air pollution. Their leaves and roots absorb the synthetic chemicals released from the cleaning products we use every day. Besides, they add a natural touch of green to the indoors.
Related: Best air purifying indoor plants
7. Block out harmful air with GreenGuard certified window shades
Greenguard Gold certified window coverings are tested rigorously to ensure a low emission of chemicals into the air. Many substances that make up our furniture emit chemicals through them, causing the indoor air to become polluted. A tested and certified material is always a good option for your windows.
8. Keep your pets clean
Pet dander is a very common cause of indoor air pollution. When pet owners visit your home, they carry the dander with them, on their clothes, their bags, shoes, etc., which is quite understandably out of your control. However, when it comes to your own pets, there are many things you can do. Groom them regularly, especially during shedding season. Most importantly, this should be done outside the house. Bathe them regularly as well. Make sure their paws are clean every time they come from the outside. Also, vacuum up their hair if it sticks to the furniture and other places.
9. Seal all the trouble areas
All leaky corners and gaps in door frames, walls, window frames, and the flooring should be sealed with caulk or foam. The same goes for electrical outlets that are not in use. The air sucked in from the basement, attic, and other spaces around the house can be emitted out from these little gaps and holes, right into your home.
Related: Best air purifiers
10. Use low VOC paints and natural materials in the bedroom
Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) are toxic emissions that keep releasing into the air even after years. House paints are laden with VOCs, which is obviously harmful. However, with a lot of increase in awareness about the same, low VOC or VOC-free paints are now available in the market.
The same goes for bedroom linen, like your sheets, pillow covers, blankets, and the pillows. Opt for organic and natural materials over the synthetic ones. They go for a longer time, are gentle on the skin, and very safe to use.
Take action today!
Indoor air pollution is a silent menace that not many are aware of until it starts to cause harm. Hence, it is extremely important to regularly clean your home or office space, and go natural over synthetic in terms of cleaners and fragrances. Keeping your ACs and air purifiers serviced and well-maintained is also important. Remember, a little extra effort will go a long way in ensuring the good health of yourself and your loved ones.