As we continue to seal our homes against the elements in an effort to make them more energy efficient, we must also protect our indoor air quality by limiting chemicals and irritants inside that can compromise our health. We must also maintain the systems that represent our best line of defense against indoor air pollution. Air filters and air purifiers, when properly maintained, are designed to keep indoor air clean. However, dirt and debris can collect in air filters and also in the air ducts that circulate the air throughout a home.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution:
- Dust, pet dander and pollen are common allergens.
- Excess moisture from bathing and cooking can lead to mold growth.
- Smoke and fumes from fireplaces, candles, tobacco and gas appliances can trigger respiratory problems.
- Harmful volatile organic compounds (VOC) released by some cleaners, adhesives, paints and many other common household products can be toxic.
- Radon gas is emitted naturally by the ground in certain areas and can become trapped inside. It has been linked to lung cancer.
Here are 6 easy things you can do to improve your indoor air quality and health:
1. Keep Your Home Clean
Dust often and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove allergens and other indoor air pollutants. Brush your pets outside frequently to remove loose hair and dander. Avoid using cleaners and air fresheners with chemical scents.
2. Change Your Air Filters (use high-end media filters)
The air filter on your HVAC system keeps dust and debris out of your air conditioner and furnace, and ultimately out of your home, but it needs to be changed every one to three months, before it gets clogged. Consult the owner’s manual or ask your HVAC professional what type of filter is best for your system. The filter should remove as much dirt from the air as possible without compromising airflow. A media filter, which is different from a standard air filter, sits in between the main return duct and the blower cabinet. Made of a deeply pleated, paper-like material, media filters are at least seven times better than a standard filter at removing dust and other particles.
3. Invest in an Air Purifier / Cleaner
An air purifier can remove the tiniest dust particles, allergens and irritants. A whole house purifier protects your entire home and is especially beneficial for family members with allergies or respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
4. Clean Your Air Ducts
Over time, air ducts can collect dirt that is then redistributed throughout your home. Professional air duct cleaning can prevent dirt from accumulating and reduce wear and tear on your HVAC equipment.
5. Let the Fresh Air In
Once in a while, open windows or patio doors to allow fresh air to circulate.
6. Test Your Home for Radon
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can build up and become trapped in your basement. If radon is detected at an unsafe level, institute a mitigation plan.