Are you wondering what type of indoor air quality solutions you can use in your home?
With concerns about viruses and more people working from home, we’re regularly receiving questions about what can be done to make staying home healthier.
Making an effort to improve indoor air quality can help you avoid asthma flare-ups and allergy symptoms and keep you breathing easily through the whole year.
While it’s probably not possible to eliminate all the allergens inside your home, you can reduce the number — and your exposure to them — by making some simple changes.
Here are some strategies you can use to improve air quality inside your home and hopefully improve your allergy symptoms.
6 Simple Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Following are things you can do starting today to make the air inside your home better and healthier to breathe.
1. Keep your floors fresh
Suck it up.
Chemicals and allergens can accumulate in household dust for decades. By using a vacuum with a HEPA filter you can reduce concentrations of lead in your home. You can also get rid of other toxins, like brominated fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) as well as allergens like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.
Using a vacuum cleaner that has strong suction, rotating brushes, and a HEPA filter ensures that dust and dirt won’t get blown back out in the exhaust. In high traffic areas, vacuum the same spot several times. Don’t forget walls, carpet edges, and upholstered furniture, where dust accumulates. For best results, vacuum two or more times each week and wash out your filter regularly.
Mop it up.
Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. You can skip the soaps and cleaners and just use plain water to capture any lingering dust or allergens. New microfiber mops (and dust cloths) reportedly capture more dust and dirt than traditional fibers and don’t require any cleaning solutions whatsoever.
Keep it out.
Put a large floor mat at every door. People track in all sorts of chemicals via the dirt on their shoes. A doormat reduces the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants from getting into your home. If the mat is big enough, even those who don’t wipe their shoes will leave most pollutants on the mat — not the floors in your home.
If you live in a home built before 1978, there’s a good chance that lead paint still exists on your walls. But even in a newer home, you may face lead exposure — from lead dust tracked in from outside. Lead dust can raise the risk of exposure for young children — a serious problem that can damage the brain, central nervous system, and kidneys. Pesticides are also linked with brain damage in young children. Kids are vulnerable to higher exposures because they tend to get dust on their fingers and then put their fingers in their mouths.
To best protect your family, ask people to remove their shoes when entering your home. Keep house shoes, slippers, and socks near the door.
2. Keep a healthy level of humidity.
Dust mites and mold love moisture. Keeping humidity around 30%-50% helps keep them and other allergens under control. A dehumidifier (and air conditioner during summer months) helps reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively controls allergens, Lang says. An air conditioner also reduces indoor pollen count — another plus for allergy-sufferers.
More tips for dehumidifying your home:
- Use an exhaust fan or crack open a window when cooking, running the dishwasher, or bathing.
- Don’t overwater houseplants.
- Vent the clothes dryer to the outside.
- Fix leaky plumbing to prevent moisture-loving mold.
- Empty drip pans in your window air conditioner and dehumidifier.
- Make your home a no-smoking zone. “Probably the single most important aspect of indoor air pollution is secondhand cigarette smoke,” says Philip Landrigan, MD, a pediatrician, and director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals. Research shows that secondhand smoke increases a child’s risk of developing ear and respiratory infections, asthma, cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For the smoker, this addiction causes cancer, breathing problems, heart attacks, and stroke.
If you want to stop smoking, support groups, nicotine replacement therapy, and other medications can help. Find a method that works for you, get some support (friends, family, fellow quitters, counseling), and think positive. Focus on your reasons for quitting — not on your cravings.
More Americans than ever before have kicked the habit, according to the CDC. But if you relapse, make sure you don’t smoke inside the house. “If you just can’t quit, at least smoke outside,” Landrigan says.
4. Test for Radon.
Whether you have a new or old home, you could have a radon problem. This colorless, odorless gas significantly raises the risk of lung cancer. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today. If you smoke and your home has high radon levels, your risk of lung cancer is especially high.
Radon is a radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground and into your home through cracks and holes in the foundation. Drafty homes, airtight homes, homes with or without a basement — any home can potentially have a radon problem.
Granite countertops have also been linked to radon. While experts agree that most granite countertops emit some radon, the question is whether they do so at levels that can cause cancer.
Testing is easy, inexpensive, and takes only a few minutes. If you discover a radon problem, there are simple ways to reduce levels of Radon gas that are not too costly. Even high radon levels can be reduced to acceptable levels. The Environmental Protection Agency offers a “Consumer’s Guide to Radon Reduction.”
5. Smell good naturally.
You may associate that lemony or piney scent with a clean kitchen or clean clothes. But synthetic fragrances in laundry products and air fresheners emit dozens of different chemicals into the air. You won’t find their names on the product labels. Conventional laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and air fresheners in solid, spray, and oil form may all emit such gasses.
In one study, a plug-in air freshener was found to emit 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including seven regulated as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws. But these chemicals were not included on the label — only the word “fragrance” is required to be listed. But the actual composition of the fragrance is considered a “trade secret.”
Most fragrances are derived from petroleum products and generally haven’t been tested to see if they have any significant adverse health effects in humans when they are inhaled. (Tests usually focus on whether a fragrance causes skin irritation.)
Some that have been tested raise concern. Phthalates are a group of chemicals often used in fragrances and also used to soften plastics. Studies show that phthalates disrupt hormones in animals.
What can you do?
- Look for fragrance-free or naturally-scented laundry products.
- Switch to mild cleaners that don’t include artificial fragrances.
- Stop using aerosol sprays — deodorants, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, furniture polish, and air fresheners.
- Let in the fresh air. Open windows so toxic chemicals don’t build up in your home. What if you or your child has pollen allergies? Then keep rooms ventilated with a filtered air- conditioning system.
- Use sliced lemons and baking soda to get a clean scent in the kitchen.
- Bring nature indoors. Any room is prettier with a fern, spider plant, or aloe vera. It’s also healthier. NASA research shows that indoor plants like these act as living air purifiers — the foliage and roots work in tandem to absorb chemical pollutants released by synthetic materials. If you have kids or pets, make sure the plants aren’t poisonous if ingested.
6. Install an Air Purification Solution
This option is a very effective way to keep your indoor air cleaner and freer from dust and pollen. While this is a more costly option than the previously mentioned steps, it is very effective and doesn’t require much maintenance.
We can install a purification system that will resolve any problems you are having with indoor air quality.
One of the best is the Reme Halo induct air purification system. It eliminates the “stuff” in your air that could potentially make you sick. Things like bacteria, pollen, smoke, and mold. It’s important you call now to get your system, though, as many Phoenix HVAC contractors have limited supply due to the recent rise in demand.
About the Reme Halo
The award-winning REME HALO® whole home in-duct air purifier is the next generation of indoor air quality (IAQ) technology. It is capable of purifying every cubic inch of air that your central air conditioning system reaches.
This was designed to eliminate sick building syndrome risks by reducing odors and air pollutants. This home in-duct air purifier is the best solution for whole-house air purification.
The Reme Halo was Invented to recreate nature’s process of purifying the air, it’s like bringing fresh outdoor air inside without ever having to open your windows. And it’s effective against all three categories of indoor air pollutants: Particulates, Microbial, and Gases.
Learn more on the RFG website or by calling us for details
As you can see there are several inexpensive ways to quickly improve the air quality of your home.
We’d love to hear from you and help you with any questions you might have about your home’s HVAC system.