Just as important as your food, hygiene, and other healthy choices is the choice to improve your indoor air quality. Numerous health problems are linked to air quality, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Using a good air quality monitor connected to your ventilation systems can help you detect and remove harmful pollutants like volatile organic compounds and others. It’s important to work on your indoor air quality and improve it as best you can.
Types of Pollutants and How to Remove Them
Improving air quality starts with basic steps at home. You can enhance your environmental health by using a smart indoor air quality monitor and removing or managing the pollutants it detects. These are pollutants you can expect:
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOCs evaporate or “off-gas” from various natural and man-made products around your home, even at room temperature. They are constantly being released into the air and can cause respiratory infections and other health issues. Opening windows, using activated carbon air purification, or increasing home ventilation can help reduce the concentrations of VOCs in your air. Avoid buying, using, and storing chemicals that produce VOCs when possible.
During warmer weather and in coastal areas, mold and mildew tend to grow around homes and release spores and other natural pollutants. Whenever there’s too much moisture, mold and mildew are a risk. Dehumidifying systems and ventilation like ACs work to reduce the moisture in your indoor air and can help to reduce mold and mildew. Kill any visible mold with a strong acid, such as vinegar, to keep it from producing more spores.
Home get dirty quickly with a variety of large and small particulates. These include pet dander, dust mites, skin flakes, ashes from smoke, outdoor chemical particulates, and many more. Reduce the build-up in your home by cleaning regularly and prevent them from building up by keeping as much dirt outside as possible.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is mostly produced by aerobic organisms and can build up to unsafe levels when your home is not well ventilated. Allowing fresh air to come inside and circulating CO2-filled air out will improve air quality.
CO is commonly produced by home appliances like gas cooking stoves, fireplaces, water heaters, and other systems that burn gas, oil, coal, or wood. It’s undetectable in pure form because it’s odorless, tasteless, and translucent. Install a CO detector to alert you when concentrations are above safe levels in your home. Ventilation helps remove CO, but you should also find the source of the CO in your house and fix it or remove it if possible.
Commonly produced as a byproduct of burning fossil fuels. NO2 is common in higher concentrations outdoors, but can also be produced indoors from sources like gas-burning appliances and cigarettes. This gas has a noticeable odor that can alert you when it’s too highly present in the air. Ventilation is key to managing NO2 concentration.
Radon is a gas that’s odorless and colorless. It naturally comes up from the soil and can affect any homes. According to the American Lung Association, high radon levels can cause lung cancer. Although it’s not detectable by your own senses, you can install a radon meter that will monitor levels for you, work as ventilation system to the outside, and will alert you if concentrations are too high.
Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality at Home
Even without knowing your specific pollutants, there are things you can do to improve your indoor air quality. Here are some tips that can help:
1. Clean Regularly
Try to reduce the number of particulates you’re inhaling daily by cleaning your floors and surfaces regularly. Use a vacuum with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter whenever possible to remove even some of the smallest breathable particles.
2. Regulate Humidity
Heating and cooling systems can mess up your humidity levels throughout a home. Heating can encourage too much moisture while air conditioning may reduce humidity too low. Neither are good for your air quality. Keep track of humidity levels in your home and regulate as needed to maintain the right relative humidity levels. If you’re using recovery ventilators, be aware of how humid the air is outside and regulate as needed.
3. Test and Monitor Air Quality
Purchase and use an air quality monitoring system that can tell you what’s in your air, at what percentages, and how your overall air quality is. Systems should monitor a minimum of VOCs, humidity, temperature, and breathable particulates. A smart system can automatically connect to your mechanical ventilation system and turn it on when air quality is too low.
4. Change your filters once in a while
All inbound air go through your filters if you think about it… Better if it’s clean! Additionally, that also makes your home more energy efficient.
Why IAQ Is Important (Respiratory and general Health problems linked to VOCs, radon, and other pollutants)
How a smartphone equipped with an air quality monitor can help you check concentrations of carbon monoxide, NO2, volatile organic compounds, and more on the go.
What are the long-term effects of VOCs? (Including asthma, respiratory issues, cancer, and other health issues caused by carbon pollutants and other airborne environmental pollutants)