According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is one of the top killers in the world. Here are some statistics for you –
- 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.
Now these statistics are a real eye opener. But what’s even astonishing is the new statistic which states that – “Almost 3.8 million deaths occur every year due to household air pollutants like smoke from cooking and fuel.”
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. Its our protective bubble and we feel so secure inside the cozy 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. If you’ve had cold in the middle of summers or a sudden allergy, chances are, it is your indoor air quality that has caused it. Indoor air quality can have 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 amount 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 & this 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 a poor indoor air quality.
- Pet Dander – If you’ve got pets, you should know that they shed hair left, right and center. These small hair particles get mixed in the air or stuck to your carpet and furniture, thereby, entering your body indirectly.
- Volatile Compounds – Harmful chemicals and volatile compounds found in paints, cleaning chemicals, glues, bleach, markers etc. can also seriously damage your air quality.
- Mold & Mildew – You might not be aware, but mold and mildew may be causing serious damage to your home and health.
- Chemicals – found in furniture, plywood, laminates and fabrics.
- Cleaning products – Yes, your cleaning products contain chlorine bleach, propellants and other chemicals which might be causing harm to your air quality.
You could also carry pollutants along with you from outside when you come back to your home or offices. There’s so many sources of indoor air pollution to tell you frankly that it would be difficult to add all of them here. But what we can tell you is some small and easy steps that you could take to improve the 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/replace your filters regularly. Air purifiers are essential for households with individuals having some allergy issues.
- Keep You Carpet & Furniture Clean
Your carpet & furniture can hold onto lot of germs, pollutants, pet dander & other allergens. Regular vacuuming of the carpets and furniture is important in improve the indoor air quality of your home or office. If you’re lazy, take the services of a professional carpet/furniture cleaning company. Don’t neglect it. You can also include some other household fabrics like floor mats, curtains & cushions into the mix as they are also prone to allergens if not cleaned properly and regularly.
- Mop the floor & clean the walls
Your floor can collect dirt & dust which you carry from outside. This can create problems in maintaining proper air quality. Walls are also a neglected area of our home & office. You need to clean the walls regularly too as uncleaned walls can hold onto germs and bacteria, which overtime 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
Humidity can lead to growth of mold and mildew which further lead to serious health issues. Its important to maintain right amount of humidity in living spaces. You do not want mold, dust mites and mildew growing in your environment, believe us. You can also look for any leaks inside the pipelines as they can lead to humidity increase. Make sure your pipes and appliances do not have any leaks in them. Ideally the humidity levels should be 30-50% only.
- 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.
- Change the paint
The paint on your walls may be beautiful, but its chemical levels can cause you serious health issues. Select a good quality and low chemical paint. The amazing color is not worth your health. Try the non-scented variety, they are designed to promote good air quality.
- Manage your pets
Pet dander is a serious threat to the 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 etc. 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 have high radon levels. This naturally occurring but radioactive gas can travel from soil into your homes. Granite countertops 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
Smoke produced during cooking, although, not as harmful as cigarette smoke, but overtime 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 a 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 custom 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.
- Clean Your Bedding Regularly
You should clean your bedding regularly as it can attract dust mites, dirt and odor if not cleaned 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? Have you had your air conditioner checked recently? 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 now a days. 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’s some frequently asked questions about AC Duct Cleaning, if you are skeptical.
Try to keep your hobbies like wood working, painting, carving etc., which have a capacity of polluting your environment outdoors. These hobbies along with several others are best enjoyed outdoors rather than jeopardizing the indoor air quality of your homes.
- 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.
- Control the pollution at the source
Try to control pollution causing agents at the source itself. For example, removing shoes, choosing better quality paint, not smoking, picking chemical free products & gas stoves , burners, ovens etc. These will help decrease the amount of emissions inside your homes and source-control is one of the most effective and cost-efficient approach to improving your indoor air quality.
You have to agree that most of these steps are very simple and easy to implement and have a do it yourself approach to them. Applying these steps will definitely improve your indoor air quality. It’s important to remember that if there are individuals in your family with severe allergies and health issues, it is best to take assistance of professionals to manage your indoor environment. 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.