Healthy Home Air Quality Is Achievable For Everyone
No matter where you live – in a house, apartment or condo – the quality of your home and how well it’s maintained can have an enormous impact on your wellbeing. Fortunately, healthy home habits are achievable for everyone!
One of the simplest ways to improve your indoor air quality is by controlling sources of pollution in your home. This can be accomplished by limiting exposure to common pollutants in the first place.
Proper ventilation is the process of bringing in fresh air and expelling stale, contaminated indoor air. This can be done in offices, factories, schools and homes alike.
Home ventilation is especially critical for those with breathing issues, like asthma or lung disease, and children. Additionally, proper ventilation helps prevent the spread of illnesses like colds or flus.
Ventilation also improves energy efficiency by decreasing the amount of air needed for heating and cooling. Unfortunately, this approach will not address indoor pollution problems on its own.
Source control, or eliminating or minimizing sources of indoor air pollution, is the most efficient way to improve indoor air quality. For instance, sealing or enclosing emissions from gas stoves, furnaces or other appliances can reduce their concentrations in a home.
Filtration is the process of separating solid particles in a liquid or gaseous fluid by passing it through a filter medium that allows the fluid to pass through but traps the particles. This technique has become widely used to purify water, chemicals, and waste products.
Indoor air pollutants are a major concern in homes. Sources include smoke, cooking, cleaning, hobbies and other activities that use chemical solvents or produce high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
These pollutants may cause respiratory issues like asthma flare-ups and exacerbate allergies. Unfortunately, these odorless pollutants tend to linger inside buildings for extended periods of time, contributing to their persistence.
To determine whether your home is affected by indoor pollution, identify its sources. These could include smoke from tobacco or cigarette products; burning solid fuels such as oil and gas; dust from deteriorating insulation or carpets; organic compounds from building materials, furnishings, cleaning supplies and certain pressed wood products; as well as biological contaminants.
Humidity is an integral factor in maintaining indoor air quality. Keeping your home’s relative humidity at an ideal 40-60 percent can help reduce indoor pollutants like bacteria, mold and viruses which spread more readily when airborne.
Dry air can wreak havoc on wood floors, trim, windows and other surfaces in the home. It has even been known to crack or warp antiques, leather furniture, fabric furniture items, electronics devices and musical instruments due to its drying effects.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) suggests controlling indoor humidity to help avoid these issues.
A whole-house humidification or dehumidification device can be integrated into an existing home’s HVAC system to monitor and regulate indoor humidity levels. Depending on the model, these devices add or remove pints of water daily in order to maintain desired relative humidity levels.
Air cleaners can be an effective tool in reducing indoor pollutant levels. They remove particles that are too small to be seen with the naked eye, as well as gases and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Research by the Environmental Protection Agency has suggested that air cleaners equipped with HEPA filters can aid in improving respiratory health and relieving allergy and asthma symptoms. Furthermore, these devices may be beneficial in eliminating odors such as smoke or VOCs from indoor air.
Some air cleaners also filter radon out of the air, though their effectiveness is uncertain due to only removing a fraction of its decay products.
In 2008, CARB passed an air cleaner regulation that limits the amount of ozone produced by indoor air cleaners. All air cleaners sold in California must be certified by CARB and bear a label verifying they adhere to this regulation.