How Can I Improve Indoor Air Quality During Coronavirus (and beyond)?
Considering that you are spending almost 100% of your time indoors, here are eight tips to follow to ensure your indoor air quality is satisfactory without wasting a lot of time and money.
Your home is somewhere more than just the place you live—it is your small haven. It is where you sit, rejuvenate, and feel nurtured. Nowadays, with the coronavirus at large, it is undoubtedly where you spend most of your time trying to keep your loved ones safe and healthy. However, creating a haven takes more than just keeping up with the trendiest decorations and investing in a great security system. It means being conscious of what you allow (and what you don't allow) inside your home and saying "no" to harmful pollutants.
The Great Outdoors
You might be thinking that you're safer from outdoor pollutants since you're spending most of your time inside your home. Unfortunately, your indoor air is actually dirtier than the air outside. According to the EPA, indoor air quality is about 2-5% worse than outdoor air. Considering that you're spending almost 100% of your time indoors, here are some eight steps you can take to ensure your indoor air quality is satisfactory without wasting a lot of time and money.
Banish the Dust
A little amount of dust can be detrimental to your health and that of your loved ones. Dust can trigger allergies, which lead to respiratory illnesses, and can also contain a great number of other pollutants like lead, flame retardants, and pesticides. To ensure that the dust levels in your house are kept at bay, invest in a quality vacuum cleaner with a great filtration system like HEPA filters and make it a habit to vacuum your house at least twice a week. Besides, don't just vacuum the floors only. Remember all other surfaces in your house susceptible to dust accumulation like furniture, curtains, and hard to reach areas like the high corners. Ensure that you replace the filter after every cleaning to prevent dust from accumulating and spewing back out. Some other tips you can try include:
- Mopping out after vacuuming- Mopping the floor collects all the dust that might have been left behind during vacuuming. For the best results, use the new microfiber mops rather than the traditional fibers to trap dust and clean better.
- Keep the dust out- You can do this by putting a large mat at the doorstep of your house to reduce the amount of dirt, pesticides, and other pollutants that get trapped on shoes.
Consider House Plants
Some houseplants are better than others when it comes to improving the indoor quality and providing additional oxygen in your home. They also increase the visual appeal of your home. Besides, you have a lot of time in your house right now and can utilize it to plant a few house plants that will be beneficial even after the pandemic. Here are some of the best plants you can consider using in your home with their scientific names:
- Bamboo Palm - Dypsis lutescens
- English Ivy - Hedera helix
- Gerbera Daisy - Gerbera jamesonii
- Janet Craig Dracaena - Dracaena deremensis' Janet Craig'
- Red Edged Dracaena - Dracaena marginata
- Mass cane/Corn Plant - Dracaena massangeana
- Warneckii Dracaena - Dracaena deremensis 'Warneckii'
Get Some Fresh Air
Fresh air is vital in keeping you happy, elevating your mood, and improving your home's overall comfort. However, Covid-19 has most Americans staying at home, hence lessening the time they have for outdoor experiences and interacting with nature for fresh air. Stagnant air significantly reduces your home's indoor quality due to the buildup and presence of contaminants like pet dander, pollen grains, and dust mites. Ensure that you open the windows to let in clean, fresh air to circulate in your home. If you're also looking to upgrade your HVAC unit, consider using clean air technology, which keeps the air of your home clean, and introduces fresh air while still keeping the humidity levels in check.
Have a Look at Your Air Filter
Your HVAC filter is more or less the first line of defense against pollutants and contaminants in your home. However, if the air filter is dirty or clogged, it does little (or is of no use) in improving the indoor quality of your home. Dirty and clogged air filters not only prevent efficient airflow but it also damages other components of your system and decreases your unit's effectiveness. Even if you use a thick and heavy air filter, the general rule of thumb is to clean or replace it between the first month and third month of its use. If you are behind schedule and your filter is visibly dirty, replace it as soon as possible to ensure that you get the best and quality air from your HVAC.
Keep Your Kitchen Extractors Fans On
Since the government and many municipalities have enforced stay-at-home orders for most non-essential businesses, eating out is no longer an option for you. This means that you will have to prepare meals in your home or ask for home delivery. If you're for the latter, always have your kitchen extractor fans on when cooking at home with your gas. This is because when cooking, the vegetable oil, fat, and other ingredients naturally release formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and VOCs4. Your extractor fans do a great job of ensuring the air circulating in your home is fresh and healthy.
Keep a Healthy Level of Humidity
Your relative humidity level is vital in keeping your indoor air quality great. Dust mite and mold typically thrive in places with a lot of moisture. The best thing to curb this is by using an air conditioner with a strong dehumidifier to reduce the moisture and effectively control the allergens in your home. Other tips for keeping your home dehumidified include:
- Water your house plants sparingly
- Fix any plumbing issues as soon as you can
- Vent the clothes dryer outside
Keep Your Home Smoke Free
Cigarette smoke contains about 4000 chemicals in itself alone. It is one of the leading causes of indoor air pollution, especially in a household where people smoke indoors. According to research, secondhand smoke increases the risks of children getting respiratory illnesses such as asthma, ear infection, and cancer. For the smoker, it increases the chances of getting cancer, heart attacks, and respiratory-related illnesses. If you want to quit smoking, there are various ways you can achieve this, such as medication, visiting support help groups, and nicotine-replacement therapy. Find a method that best suits you on your way to recovery.
Test for Radon
Radon is a colorless, odorless, and highly radioactive gas. It comes from the natural decay of uranium found almost in all soils and creeps inside your house through cracks and holes in your foundation. It is also the second leading cause of lung cancer in America. You don't have to panic, though. Testing for radon is inexpensive, easy, and will only take a few minutes of your time. Besides, if your house has relatively high levels of radon, it is possible to control it to acceptable levels- all you need to do is to engage the services of a radon mitigation contractor.
These tips might seem easy, but they collectively have a huge impact on your home's indoor air quality and your well-being — and given how inexpensive they all are, you have no reason to live in a house with poor indoor air quality.