“Almost 3.8 million deaths occur every year due to household air pollutants like smoke from cooking and fuel.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is one of the top killers in the world.
- Air pollution is the 4th largest threat to the living world.
- There are 4.2 million deaths due to air pollution in the world.
- 91% of the population lives in places where the air quality is worse than WHO guideline limits.
- More than 90% of the deaths related to air pollution occur in low to middle-income countries.
- Air Pollution accounts for more than 12% of all the deaths worldwide.
- It costs more than $250 Billion to the economy every year.
This clearly proves that you need to take indoor air quality seriously, perhaps, even more than outside air pollution as you probably don’t even spend 10% of your time outdoors but do spend more than 90% of your time indoors at home, office, gym, mall etc. and we so often take the air we breathe for granted especially in the comfort of our homes. It is our protective bubble and we feel so secure inside the cosy atmosphere of our homes. But little do you know that it might be more polluted than outside.
Poor indoor air quality often leads to poor health and allergies. Indoor air quality can have a more serious impact on kids and the elderly due to their weak immune system. We suggest that instead of blaming the government, factories and other people for increasing air pollution, you need to take a look inside your home first and should consider steps to improve your indoor air quality and reduce the number of pollutants that you let in as your family’s health may depend on it.
But don’t worry, it is not all doom and gloom, there are some very simple steps that you can take to improve the indoor air quality of your homes and offices. Keep on reading and we are sure that by the end of this article, you’ll have a much better knowledge about indoor environmental quality and ways to improve it. Let’s dive right into it.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
There are some very unexpected sources of poor indoor air quality inside your home and office, but you do know about some of these sources.
- Tobacco smoke – the smoke from cigarettes pollutes the indoor environment immensely and second-hand smoke is seriously unhealthy for you and your family.
- Cooking fumes – Your daily cooking can cause you health issues. The smoke produced due to cooking is not necessarily hazardous, but gets deposited overtime inside the chimney, walls and other parts of the house and can lead to poor indoor air quality. Unburnt fuel from the stove burner escapes in the air and may cause upper respiratory problems.
- Pet Dander – If you’ve got pets, you should know that they shed hair regularly. These small hair particles get mixed in the air or stuck to your carpet and furniture and inhaled accidentally.
- Volatile Compounds – Harmful chemicals and volatile compounds found in paints, cleaning chemicals, glues, bleach, markers, among other things, can also seriously damage your indoor air quality.
- Mould & Mildew – You might not be aware, but mould and mildew can cause serious damage to your home and health. They can cause allergies including asthma.
- Chemicals – found in furniture, plywood, laminates and fabrics.
- Cleaning products – cleaning products contain chlorine bleach, propellants and other chemicals which may cause harm to your air quality.
How to improve indoor air quality?
- Proper Ventilation
You need to ensure that your home and office have ventilation. Just open the windows and let the fresh air pass through your home. Just 2 hours of ventilation per day can increase your indoor air drastically. Try to choose the time of the day to open those windows wisely, as early morning and late evening air should be cleaner than any other time of the day.
- Install Air Purifiers
Good quality and properly maintained air purifiers can trap air pollutants efficiently, thereby, cleaning your air. Just make sure to clean or replace your filters regularly. Air purifiers are essential for households with individuals having some allergy issues.
- Keep Your Carpet & Furniture Clean
Your carpet & furniture can harbour a lot of germs, pollutants, pet dander & other allergens. Regular vacuuming of the carpets and furniture is important to improve the indoor air quality of your home or office. Call a professional carpet/furniture cleaning company. Include other household fabrics like floor mats, curtains and cushions as they are also prone to allergens if not cleaned properly and regularly.
- Scrub the floor & clean the walls
Your floor can collect dirt and dust which you carry from outside. Walls are also a neglected area of our home & office. You need to clean the walls regularly too as germs and bacteria can hold onto uncleaned walls, which over time can lead to health issues. Make sure you select your cleaning products wisely as incessant chemicals inside your cleaning products can do more harm than good. If possible, always opt for organic substitutes.
- Control Humidity
Monitor the Relative Humidity (RH) in your home or office. Above 50% of humidity is not a desirable range. The ideal relative humidity for comfort and health is about 40–50%. Moulds and mildew and other pathogens grow in a humid environment.
- No Smoking
Implement a strict no-smoking rule inside the house or office. Smoking fumes are the most hazardous of the lot and get easily absorbed into furniture, bed, carpets etc. This leads to serious breathing and health issues, especially among the kids and old folks.
7. Manage your pets
Pet dander is a serious threat to indoor environmental quality. Bathe your pets regularly and get rid of excess fur and dander. This will ensure that your pets stay healthy and so do you.
- Grow air-purifying houseplants
Some indoor plants have excellent purifying properties. Ivy plant, bamboo plant, palm tree, rubber plant, among others, help improve indoor air quality and are very easy to maintain inside the homes. You need to check with your local nursery and your home ambience and decide on the plant. It will not just clean the air but also add to the indoor décor of your home and office.
- Test your home for Radon Residue
According to a study, 1 in 15 homes in the USA has high radon levels. This naturally occurring but radioactive gas can travel from the soil into your homes. Granite counter-tops have also been liked to radon. It is primarily found in the basements and can lead to cancer and other serious ailments. Make sure you get it tested. You can easily get a radon kit at your local hardware store or at an online shop.
- Don’t use aerosols
Aerosol products contain butane and propane in those spray cans. They can make the air smell nice but make it polluted instead with harmful gases. Switch to natural air purifiers or aroma essential oils to remove that unwanted smell and keep your environment fresh.
- Install/Maintain kitchen chimney
The smoke produced during cooking, although, not as harmful as cigarette smoke, but over time can be a health hazard. Therefore, make sure you have a chimney installed inside your kitchen and it is well maintained to be sure that you are not getting any harmful air due to your cooking. You can also have a window in your kitchen or an exhaust fan to get that cooking smell and air out.
- Keep your shoes out
Your shoes travel with you everywhere. They can carry debris, pollutants and other things along with them. It is best that you remove your shoes before entering your home. This habit is extremely popular in Japanese culture as they like to have things neat and clean. We can learn a thing or two from the Japanese, can’t we. You can put a shoe rack right next to your entrance so that those dirty shoes and slippers never enter and pollute the inside of your home.
- Change Your Bedding Regularly
You should change your bedding regularly as it can attract dust mites, dirt and odour if not washed regularly. Washing blankets, sheets and covers should be a regular ritual in your household.
- Clean Your Air Conditioners
Ok, so you’ve installed a great air purifier, but what about your air conditioner? Did you get your air conditioner checked recently? An ill-maintained air conditioner can pollute the air inside your homes. You should get your air conditioners serviced regularly. You should also look into AC Cleaning & Disinfection and it should be an integral part of the regular AC service.
- Duct/Vent Cleaning
Which household doesn’t have Ducts or Vents nowadays. Overtime these ducts can be home to dust, debris, smoke particles, pet dander & even pests. Since cooling, heating or ventilation occurs via these ducts, they can be a source of causing air pollution inside your homes. In fact, several bodies have started to recognize the importance of duct cleaning and are recommending it to consumers. Just make sure you know about the do’s and don’ts of duct cleaning. Here are some frequently asked questions about AC Duct Cleaning, if you are sceptical.
Try to keep your hobbies like woodworking, painting, carving or anything that uses chemicals away from the main house. These hobbies along with several others are best enjoyed outdoors.
- Install smoke detectors
Smoke detectors are not just useful in case of a fire, but they also inform you if there’s any smoke in the air. They are a great tool to ensure proper air quality.
- Regularly monitor air quality
You should keep an eye on your air quality periodically. There are companies who can do Indoor Air Quality Test for you or you can buy your own indoor air quality monitor. Many air purifiers are also equipped to tell you the quality of air that you are breathing currently.
These steps are very simple and easy to follow. Applying these steps will definitely improve your indoor air quality. Remember, you are what you breathe and eat. Make indoor air quality management a part of your health routine and you’ll reap the benefits in no time.