Are you trying hard to improve your indoor air quality, but not really succeeding? With pollution becoming rampant outdoors and indoors, there is only so much we can control.
If you are struggling on where to get started, I’ve got help for you. Let me show you 5 simple and powerful ways you can implement to get pure and fresh indoor air.
Spending just 30-60 minutes a weekend would be great to start experiencing the benefits of fresh air.
How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
I came across many studies that discovered that people spend more than 90% of their day inside the home or office.
These facts were corroborated by the World Health Organization too. Their recent report on indoor air pollution mentioned that indoor air pollution can be up to 10 times more harmful than outdoor air.
I was astounded to know that!
Well, so we are exposed to noxious air pollutants every single day. We are not even aware that the air we breathe inside our homes can be hazardous for health.
Majority of people that spend time inside the home are also the most vulnerable. Infants, toddlers, pregnant women, and elderly people are more susceptible to biological pollution.
Being at home, they get exposed to many indoor contaminants such as biological pollutants. This makes them prone to develop chronic diseases and other infections.
Let’s know more about the different factors affecting indoor air quality and how it can be managed.
Understanding The Factors Affecting Indoor Air Quality
Living organisms are also known as biological pollutants. They are the primary reason for poor indoor air quality. Presence of these biological contaminants can lead to poor health of residents and make them prone to various infections and virus attacks. Missed school and office days can increase especially when you visit the doctor more often.
Biological pollutants can be small in size but highly diffusing in nature. They can be invisible and travel their way through thin air.
Different Kinds of Biological Pollutants
Do you know that advanced construction techniques can stop the flow and circulation of air in a room? Such an action can also increase the room’s humidity levels.
Restrooms, damp basements and wet appliances such as humidifiers carry these pollutants. You can also find these pollutants in old and dusty furniture, carpets and curtains.
You may think your home is sparkling. No matter how clean, every house has some biological pollutants. They make their way into the house from many moisture laden sources.
The US Consumer Protection Safety Commission has a list of known biological pollutants. They are as below:
- Animal dander (minute scales from feathers, skin, or hair);
- The saliva of household pets
- Body parts of cockroaches, rodents and dust mites;
- Different infectious agents like airborne bacteria and viruses
- Viruses transmitted by animals and affected humans
- Bacteria carried by soil, plant remains and animals
- Pollen originated from plants
These pollutants can occur in many places within the house. Humidity or moisture inside your home can give rise to toxic microorganisms. They come from building ventilation systems, central heating or cooling systems.
Using room heaters, humidifiers and air conditioners increase the growth of living organisms. Air conditioner ducts that remain dirty can also become breeding grounds.
Let me share a recent research report by the US Consumer Safety Products Commission. It stated that an average of 40% of residential and commercial structures have damp areas.
These moisture filled areas assist the airborne contaminants to survive and thrive. Dirty indoor air and moisture laden conditions increase biological pollutants.
Impact Of Poor Indoor Air Quality On Your Health
Poor indoor air quality is underrated but can be deadly.
Its impact on human health has not been studied. It is known to cause damage to body organs including the lung, immune and nervous system.
Biological contaminants contribute to poor indoor air. They are present in everyone’s house. We are all exposed to these pesky living organisms every single day. You will also see that it affects everyone differently. It affects people differently based on their age, health, immunity and individual predisposition.
They also spread airborne infections and also invite common health ailments. Most of the infectious diseases spread through physical contact. Incorrect indoor ventilation systems can aggravate biological pollution. These bacteria can cause Legionnaires disease or Pontiac Fever that can be fatal.
Presence of molds and fungi can lead to infections or even serious illnesses. Some of the symptoms that develop on exposure to biological pollutants include:
- Allergic rhinitis;
- Chronic infections sometimes resulting in hypersensitivity pneumonitis, bronchitis, and other related diseases;
- Acute or mild asthma that gets aggravated by the toxicity of these pollutants
- Watery or itchy eyes;
- Sneezing and runny nose;
- Nasal congestion;
- Persistent coughing;
- Wheezing and shortness of breath;
- A throbbing headache;
- Fatigue and fever; and
- Digestive system disorder
You may wonder what’s the deal with air pollution and asthma? People with asthma, lung disease, bronchitis, or acute allergies have sensitive airways. They are most vulnerable to these toxic biological agents. They may be at risk for allergy induced asthma.
I found a recent report by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that in 2015, the US had more than 9.6 million people living with asthma.
On further analysis of this data, they found that children under the age of 15 years are most affected. Asthma in children has increased by more than 41% to 2.6 million in the same period.
In fact, the fatality of asthma also rose by 69% since 1979, to a staggering number of 4400 deaths per year.
How To Determine If Poor Indoor Air Quality Is Affecting You
To fight any problem, we need to find if its existence is affecting you adversely. Let’s get started to see if air contamination from biological pollutants is present in your house.
Wondering if they are causing you or your loved ones any harm? Let us review how we can find this out.
Get a medical checkup done regularly. Doing this will be quite beneficial to treat symptoms arising from biological pollutants.
Let’s review some basic questions. Ask yourself these questions before consulting with your doctor.
- Do you have itchy and watery eyes, stuffy nose, dry throat or persistent cough with a fever?
- Do you complain about being tired or dizzy all the time?
- Do you have trouble breathing on a daily basis?
- Did these symptoms start after you have shifted home?
- Do the symptoms seem to disappear when you are outdoors, in school or at work and recur the moment you come back home?
- Have you recently renovated your home or got new appliances or furniture installed? Did your symptoms aggravate during or after these events?
- Do you notice any dampness or feel humidity inside your home? Can you see moisture building up on the surface, floor, walls, ceilings or windows?
- Is the inside temperature of your home unusually hot or cold?
- Have you recently experienced water damage or leakage?
- Do you have a wet or soggy basement?
- Is there any noticeable mold, fungi or mildew in your house?
- Can you feel stuffy or a mildew odor in any part of your home?
- Do you often feel the musty smell of air?
- Do you have pets at home?
- Do your houseplants show significant traces of mold?
- Is your humidifier or air conditioner not properly cleaned?
- Is your home infested with rodents, bugs, pests or cockroaches?
If you said yes to at least 4 questions out of 18, there is a good chance that your home has biological pollutants. Get in touch with a physician to alleviate the symptoms you have to get well soon. Once you are well, take active steps to dispel these pollutants from your home.
Steps To Improve Indoor Air Quality
With regular cleaning strategies and active monitoring, you can get rid of them. The best way to deal with them is to eliminate the source from which they came. Doing this will help you eliminate their infestation and also prevent them from reoccurring.
We are sure that giving away your pets or donating your useful air purifier are not viable options. Let’s look at simple hacks that can be effective at controlling the growth of these living organisms.
Identify Breeding Places
Careful inspection can help to find traces of biological pollutants in your house.
Are you wondering what are some biological contamination examples? Take a walk in your home. Use your eye and the nose as the biggest weapons. Look out for any signs of moisture and dampness. Moisture-laden surfaces are perfect areas where you can find these organisms.
Once you find those corners, half the battle is won. Now you can combat them in these areas. For example, you may have stacked firewood in the fireplace to fight freezing winters. Moist firewood can rot and lead to the development of harmful bugs, pests, and fungi.
I hope you get the drift. Let’s now check out places where these dangerous biological pollutants renting space in your home:
- dirty air conditioners;
- dirty humidifiers and dehumidifiers;
- bathroom with inadequate ventilation;
- a kitchen without windows or vent;
- unclean refrigerator drip pans;
- laundry room with an unvented dryer;
- an unventilated loft;
- carpet on the clammy basement floor;
- unused bedding;
- closet on the outside wall;
- dirty air-conditioning/ heating system;
- pets; and
- water leakage and damage (around the roof, the basement, and windows).
Do you have diverse appliances at home? Well, they may offer convenience but invite toxic organisms if not maintained.
Allergy and Asthma do co-exist. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America mentions that more than 50% humidity in a home can lead to more dust mites. It further shares that humid air increases mold and ozone in the air making it impure. Seasonal asthma is also quite common.
Water leakage is primarily responsible for moisture in homes. Many sources inside your home trigger leakage of water. Drain pipe leakage and leaky bathroom faucets add unnecessary moisture to indoor air.
In cold or freezing weather, moisture can accumulate on cold surfaces. The biological pollutants can grow faster in these moist and humid conditions. You can follow some home remedies to keep the biological pollutants at bay:
- Fix leaks and seepage. You can opt for waterproofing or landscaping to fix external water leakages. The ground should slope away from the house.
- Water in the basement can result from the lack of gutters or a water flow toward the house. Cut or reduce water leakage in and around the house. It helps by not giving any space for the biological pollutants to grow.
- Put a plastic cover over dirt crawl spaces to prevent ground moisture from coming in. Make sure crawl spaces are well-ventilated.
- Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to redirect moisture outside (not into the attic)
- Vent your clothes dryer outside.
- Turn off humidifiers or heaters if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces. Use them once they dry off.
- Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners in hot and humid climates to reduce moisture. Do take care that the appliances themselves don’t become sources of biological pollutants.
- Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses.
- Use insulation or storm windows. (A storm window installed inside works better than one outside)
- Keep connecting doors between rooms open to improving air circulation including in closet areas.
- Increase air circulation by moving furniture from wall corners to the center of the room.
- Keep your home or apartment ventilated. open the doors and windows for an hour every day. In winters, try to keep the windows open just a crack. Be sure that your house has a source of fresh air and can expel excessive moisture from the home.
- Pay special attention to the carpet on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow. Use area rugs which can be washed.
Cleaning your home and home appliances will go a long way to keep your home free of these pesky pollutants. As per the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a weekly home cleaning is essential.
Schedule a deep clean of your home weekly if you have a person with asthma or other breathing issues at home. It can significantly lessen your asthma risk factors.
If you are wondering how to do this, let’s check out the simple steps which can help.
- Clean moist surfaces, such as showers and kitchen counters. Something like thrice a week would be good. Keep these surfaces dry after use.
- Completely remove mold from walls, ceilings, floors, and paneling. Do not cover mold with paint, stain, varnish, or a moisture-proof sealer, as it may resurface.
- Replace moldy shower curtains. You can also remove them and scrub well with a household cleaner and rinse before rehanging them.
- Ensure regular cleaning of your room, loft, and balcony floors. Once a week would be good. If you are pressed for time, a fortnight would be fine.
- Use exhaust fans to vent the air outside for kitchens and bathrooms. Also, vent the cloth dryer outdoors.
- Remember to regularly ventilate crawl spaces and attic to avoid moisture accumulation
- Set the humidity controller in your home to below 50 percent to avoid water condensation.
- For cool or ultrasonic humidifiers, clean them as per manufacturer’s instructions. Refill new water in them each day.
- Clean the evaporation trays every day in humidifiers, refrigerators and air conditioners.
- Remove any carpet or building material if it is drenched in water. It can have mold or bacteria growth. Air dry it to ensure all moisture is sucked out and then remove it from the room. If not done, bacteria and mold will be invited.
- Vacuum your home regularly. Keeping your home clean will help to reduce the presence of house dust mites, pollens, animal dander, and other allergy-causing agents. They can be reduced with regular cleaning though not eliminated.
- Any person allergic to biological pollutants should wash all their bedding in 140 degrees Fahrenheit hot water, to kill all germs and bacteria. Prefer getting bedding made of materials that can be washed in hot water.
- Wear an N99 mask at the time of cleaning your home, including when you are vacuuming.
- Take steps to minimize biological pollutants in basements. Do not keep any wet items in the basement. Keep it ventilated to avoid dampness.
- Wash and disinfect the basement floor periodically. Check water leaks and ventilation is working. Maintain humidity levels of a maximum of 50% in the basement by operating a humidifier.
Controlling dust is vital. As per the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the presence of dust particles can aggravate breathing difficulties. If anyone in your family is sensitive to mites or animal dander, dust control is an absolute priority. Mites often propagate in the moist surface.
The best way to regulate them is by keeping the surface spanking clean and remove any unwanted stuff. Dust mites breed in sofas, carpets, bedding, cushioned chairs, and open wooden shelves.
If you think that your powerful vacuum can drag contaminants from dirty carpets, then you are wrong. Your vacuum’s horsepower won’t be able to trace these pollutants.
Most physicians suggest their dust mite allergic patients to use washable carpets.
To conclude, it is clear that simple steps can help to improve indoor air quality. Starting with even one step can help in a significant improvement in the air you breathe at home.
I chose a couple of tips to sanitize my home and it worked great! Now, I prefer picking a particular room or area to clean and sanitize each weekend. It gets the work done and perfectly fits into my schedule.
Look at your schedule and work out what’s best for you. Start today and see the difference for yourself. I am sure you will notice a marked reduction in breathing issues. Your indoor air will be much pure and clean to breathe.
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