Did you know the air inside your home is more polluted than the air outside it? It’s true — according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air we inhale indoors is about two to five times more polluted than the air we breathe outdoors. Here’s an even scarier fact: Some buildings with really poor indoor air quality can have two to five times higher pollution levels than outdoor. Yikes.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that some of their everyday habits and the products they use inside their homes are contributing to indoor air pollution. And unless you know what you’re currently doing that’s diminishing your indoor air quality, it’s pretty tough to fix the problem.
At Dust Doctors, we’re here to help. Our goal is to help you breathe the cleanest air possible inside your home and to accomplish that, education is our number one tool. Below, we’ve outlined some of the ways you might be polluting the air in your home and how you can improve your indoor air quality.
1. Burning Petroleum-Based Candles
Candles might give the impression they’re doing something positive for your indoor air, but for the most part, that’s simply not true. Though they undoubtedly improve the scent of the air inside your home, most of them do so by emitting harmful artificial fragrances that diminish your indoor air quality.
Furthermore, paraffin-based candles — the most popular type — are made from petroleum byproducts. They contain hazardous microparticles that disperse into your indoor air when they burn, which can result in lung inflammation and other respiratory issues in sensitive individuals.
How should you solve this issue? Ditch the paraffin-based products. If you’re not ready to give up candles entirely, look for soy or beeswax ones that don’t pose a threat to your lungs. In addition to switching up the type of candles you burn, you may also want to consider implementing an air purification system to filter out airborne particulate matter inside your home.
2. Dusting Ineffectively
If you’re dusting with ineffective tools, you’re not really dusting; you’re basically just pushing dust from one location to another. Or, worse, you’re stirring it up and releasing it into the air you breathe. If you’re guilty of this, solving the problem and improving your indoor air quality is super simple. Here’s how to dust effectively:
● Start from the top. Always start dusting at the top of whatever you’re dusting and work down from there. Starting at the top ensures any dust you miss falls downward, and you’ll be able to trap it as you work toward the floor.
● Use microfiber cloths or wands. Don’t use a feather duster or anything of the sort. Only use microfiber materials that are specifically designed to trap and hold onto dust particles. Anything else just pushes dust in from one location to another or into the air.
● Ditch the dusting sprays. Most dusting sprays contain harmful volatile organic compounds and add unnecessary particulate matter to your indoor air. They’re not necessary, so it’s best not to use them.
● Dust everything. When you dust, don’t slack. Dust everything. Move your things, dust under them, and then dust the items themselves. If you’re not going to do a thorough job, why dust at all?
● Vacuum last. When you’ve finished dusting everything, vacuum everywhere to ensure you pick up any dust that fell to the floor during the dusting process itself. Staying on top of cleaning the filter often and choosing a product that offers high-efficiency small particle design can help significantly reduce indoor particulates and allergy and asthma symptoms.
3. Waiting Too Long to Change Your HVAC Filters
Your HVAC filter might not cross your mind frequently, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be changed frequently. At the very least, you should be changing your filters every 90 days, and depending on your household, you may need to change them more often than that.
4. Neglecting Duct Cleaning
If you’ve never had professional duct cleaning and you have a central HVAC system, the air inside your home is almost certainly more polluted than it should be. Professional duct cleaning ensures your entire duct system is free of dust and other debris that can pollute your indoor air and even cause health issues.
Ideally, you should have this service performed every 3-5 years and if you have several pets or smoke indoors, you should schedule appointments more often. Here’s how to find a high-quality duct cleaning company in case you’re wondering.
5. Using Household Products That Contain VOCs
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) exist in thousands of everyday products, and unfortunately, many people don’t realize just how hazardous these substances can be. If you use any of the following products, VOCs are diminishing your indoor air quality:
● Aerosol sprays
● Chemical-based household cleaning products
● Paints and solvents
● Certain hobby supplies, like adhesives
● Air fresheners and bug repellents
● Wood preservatives
● Dry-cleaned clothing
● New beds, furniture, and cabinets
● New rugs and carpets
It’s important to note that the above list is far from comprehensive. While these products are readily available and widely used, they’re a major source of indoor air pollution that can damage your health.
To help maximize your indoor air quality, one of the most effective things you can do is stay away from chemical-based products. Researching the products you are purchasing and looking for manufacturers that comply with regulations is recommended because this gives you a choice to pick products with certifications for a low VOC rating.
6. Not Removing Asbestos
For decades, asbestos was used in building construction, meaning many homes may still have particulates. While asbestos, when properly contained, can be harmless; however, if the particles are released, they can go airborne and cause health risks and the exposure will affect everyone differently.
The biggest preventative method is to call a professional for an asbestos inspection and identify where it is located and give you recommendations on your removal options.
7. Not Bathing Pets
Pets can be great companions, but staying on top of regular maintenance is critical if you suffer from allergies. And with an estimated 10 to 15% of Americans having allergies to pet dander, this can be a problem because the dander can become easily airborne and accumulate on flooring and furniture.
Providing a separate sleeping place for them, giving them regular baths, and staying on top of maintaining their space will reduce the number of allergens in the air and keep your home cleaner at the same time.
8. Letting Your Humidity Levels Get Too High
Your home's humidity levels are just as important as the indoor temperature and will directly impact its quality. High humidity levels can cause several problems aside from making you uncomfortable and your home feel stuffy.
It can become a perfect space for mold and mildew to multiply, resulting in increased allergies and low air quality. Using ventilation and exhaust fans when cooking or bathing, taking cooler showers, and investing in a dehumidifier are all great starting places to reduce levels.
Ready to Improve the Indoor Air Quality in Your Twin Cities Home? Contact Dust Doctors
If you’re worried your indoor air quality could use some serious help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team Dust Doctors. For over a decade, we’ve provided duct cleaning and air purification solutions for Twin Cities residents, and we’re here to help you clean up your indoor air too!
To get started or learn more about our services, call our Little Canada, MN office today at 651-319-9777 or contact us, and we’ll be in touch!
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