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How Do I Maintain My Indoor Air Quality Once it is Satisfactory?

You can keep your IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) high by maintaining a clean house, ventilating the inside air, and minimizing sources of indoor pollution.

The past few years have seen us become mainly indoor creatures, but especially so following the Coronavirus lockdowns. With up to 80% less traffic on the streets, the outdoor air has had a chance to recover and become cleaner than it has been in years. But what about indoor air? Unfortunately, our homes aren't enjoying the same privileges. If anything, the air quality inside our homes has worsened significantly from the increased use. Indoor air pollutants can be five times as high as those outdoors, especially in today's airtight homes. The most dangerous thing is that increased levels of pollutants and particulate matter (PM) increases our chances of contracting COVID-19; scientists say that the virus could be attaching itself to these solid particles. Additionally, the inflammation caused by these pollutants could be making us more susceptible to the virus. We need to take measures to ensure better air quality inside our homes to protect ourselves and our families both from COVID-19 and long-term respiratory conditions.

 

Is Your Home Air Clean Enough?

During the cold months up north it might be an advantage to stay locked up and cozy at home as this will limit your contact with contagions. However South Florida seldomly sees extended periods of cold weather, making it especially important to be aware of the symptoms that poor indoor air quality can produce. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Coughing
  • Dizziness
  • Asthma flare-ups
  • Constant fatigue
  • Sleepiness

The Main Culprits of Indoor Pollution

Unlike the smog and fog you typically see outside, indoor air pollution consists more of biological matter, chemical compounds, and suspended particulate matter. Biological matter or biomass typically comes from pet dander from resident furries or tracked in through our clothes and shoes. Skin mites, dandruff, plant remains, wood dust, and mold spores also contribute to the biomass in the air. We add respiratory aerosols to this disgusting mix every time we cough or sneeze inappropriately. Chemical compounds also tend to accumulate in our homes. These include nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from the outside air and toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from all the plastics, disinfectants, paints, carpets, pesticides, and preservatives in our homes. Our homes can even have formaldehyde from these chemical pollutants, which has been shown to be carcinogenic. Even worse, the dust in the air is especially insidious because it can also contain toxic heavy metals such as asbestos, lead, and radon. Older homes might have lead paint, asbestos roofing, lead piping, and radon seeping in through the basement. For those who burn coal, charcoal, dung, or smoke indoor, the problem becomes much worse.

 

How to Maintain Your Indoor Air Quality

Keeping the air inside our homes clean during the pandemic is paramount. The WHO has released guidelines about indoor air quality and COVID-19, and experts have since put together guidelines about indoor air quality during the pandemic.

Clean Better and More Often

Vacuuming is one of the most effective ways to get rid of dust, pet dander, pollen, dust mites, fibers, and other toxic hazards. Use a HEPA filter with your vacuum cleaner to make sure these particles are not blown back out again. Mop and wipe everywhere you can with a mild soap solution to pick up anything else that the vacuum leaves behind. Other best practices to keep your home and the air clean include picking up any scraps of food and not bringing in dusty shoes into the house.

Ventilate

Whenever you can, open the windows to let in air. Even with the HVAC on, typical settings are to cycle outside air three times every hour for maximum efficiency. This is not enough when you have all these pollutants in the home. Other ways to ventilate is to vent the kitchen (range, stove, cooker) outside as well as the clothes dryer. HVAC filters play a huge role in the quality of air in the home. With good quality HEPA filters, you can even capture the COVID-19 virus in the air circulation. Get your vents cleaned regularly and the filters changed every three months for maximum effectiveness.

Practice Good Hygiene

In addition to not getting into the house with dusty shoes, there are a few other tips for maintaining indoor air quality. Put the toilet lid down before flushing, for starters to ensure faecal waste particles do not get into the air. You should also practice regular cleaning including wiping surfaces clean, vacuuming at least once a week, and keep humidity under control. Moist air attracts a lot of bacteria, viruses, and fungus such as mold. Also, make sure to empty the drip pans on your dehumidifier and air-con systems.

Monitor Air Quality

If you live in an old house, you should already have had it tested for lead, radon, and asbestos. If not, get it done by an expert. You can also install detectors for radon and carbon monoxide in the air.

Technology Can Help: Air Filters, UV Purification

To ensure even more protection from airborne viruses, bacteria, mold, and other harmful pollutants, it is now recommended for all indoor places to have a form of air filtration and purification. UV light is an effective disinfectant against microscopic organic matter such as bacteria and viruses because it scrambles their DNA and effectively kills them. Installing a UV home air purifier ensures that the air in circulation is clean and healthy. There are also other types of air filters you can use such as activated charcoal filters which can get rid of suspended particulate matter while freshening it up. A photocatalytic oxidizer can help remove chemicals from the air through catalytic conversion.

Minimize Sources of Indoor Pollution

Cut the pollution at the root: don't smoke or vape in the house, switch to better heating methods, and ventilate your home thoroughly every time you use pesticides, varnishes, wood preservatives, and other aerosols. Other tips for keeping your home pollutant-free include:

  • Use natural fresheners such as essential oils and lemon instead of toxic air fresheners
  • Dry your clothes naturally--dry cleaning brings in toxic VOCs as well
  • Switch to non-volatile pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, and other chemicals
  • Eliminate mold completely from the house
  • Don't burn candles too often in the home.
  • Ventilate your cooking to the outside

Get Expert Help to Keep Your Home Air Clean

Call Advanced Air Conditioning and Heat

(772) 388-1695

Taking these steps to keep your home air quality above recommended levels keeps everyone under your roof safe from COVID-19 as well as other respiratory problems. If you have any questions about indoor air quality or need help with ventilation and air purification, call our team of air quality experts at (772) 388-1695.

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