Whether or not you realize it, the air you breathe inside of your home and workplace is considerably more contaminated than the air outdoors. And if you’re like most Minnesotans who spend the majority of their days inside, breathing that polluted indoor air all day long can have negative consequences for your health.
But here’s the good news: You’re not doomed to breathe in high levels of indoor air contaminants forever. There are several ways to clean up your indoor air quality, and in this blog, we’re sharing four of the easiest and most effective solutions.
What’s Contaminating Your Indoor Air?
Even if you feel like the air inside your home is relatively clean, chances are it’s not. According to the EPA, the air inside an average home or building is two to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. That’s even true in metropolitan areas where outdoor air quality isn’t always great.
What might be polluting your indoor air? Here are some of the many culprits behind poor indoor air quality.
Researchers have detected residue from 45 different chemicals in samples of indoor dust. Both the dust itself, which consists of lots of nasty particles, as well as the chemicals it contains, can easily pollute indoor air.
Gasses and Byproducts of Combustion
If you have any fuel-burning appliances, they can introduce harmful gasses like carbon monoxide into your indoor air. Tobacco smoke and combustion-related particulate matter can also contaminate the air inside your home.
Radon, a radioactive gas that naturally exists in soil, can also contaminate your indoor air. It’s a byproduct of uranium decay and can seep into your home via cracks or holes in the foundation. If you have well water, it may also contain radon that can disperse into your indoor air whenever you turn on a faucet.
Microbes and Fungi
If any surfaces inside your home have ever been soaked with water, chances are you have mold (which is a fungi) inside your house. And if you have a central HVAC system, there may be mold inside your ductwork, especially if your air ducts are old or your house is airtight.
Mold can quickly contaminate indoor air because it’s capable of producing hundreds of millions of microscopic spores for reproduction in a matter of days. Those spores are incredibly lightweight and can easily become airborne, ending up inside your ducts and even in your lungs.
Microbes can also pollute your indoor air, especially if your house has consistently high relative humidity levels. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments and, like mold spores, are incredibly small and lightweight. Like spores, microbes can also become airborne, where they’ll continually circulate throughout your home since most HVAC filters can’t trap them.
1. Add Indoor Plants to Your Decor
Did you know there are several indoor plants that are excellent air purifiers? It’s true — and NASA agrees. As part of their nutrient synthesis process (aka photosynthesis), all plants convert carbon dioxide to fresh oxygen. But that’s not the only way they can help improve your indoor air quality.
In addition to adding clean oxygen to stagnant, stale indoor air, many plants are also capable of removing toxins from the air, which they do through another natural process called transpiration. Many microorganisms that are naturally present in houseplant soil can also help purify your indoor air.
2. Change Filters Often
If you have a central HVAC system, you likely know you should be changing your air filter every 45-60 days or so. But have you thought about the other filters you should be changing regularly? Like your vacuum filter? Because any item with an air filter can contribute to poor indoor air quality when you don’t swap out the filter frequently enough.
For example: When you use a vacuum with a dirty filter, that vacuum forces incoming air through that filter. But since that filter is laden with dust, bacteria, and other contaminants, the forced air naturally picks up those particles and carries them into the ambient air inside your home.
Although the filter is designed to clean the incoming air, if you don’t change it (or wash it, if yours is washable) often enough, it’ll do the exact opposite of what it’s designed to do.
3. Avoid Synthetic Air Fresheners
Synthetic air fresheners might be an effective solution for preventing your bathroom from smelling like a biohazard, but unfortunately, they do more harm than good. Although they’re labeled “fresheners,” the synthetic fragrances that most commercial air freshening products contain are actually polluting your indoor air, not freshening it up.
If you currently use these products, opting for a natural alternative, like an essential oils diffuser, can go a long way toward improving your indoor air quality. Check out these other ways you might be inadvertently polluting your home.
4. Be Diligent About Using Stove Ventilation
Did you know stovetop cooking can pollute the air inside your home? That’s especially true if you burn something and smoke up the kitchen. Luckily, most range hoods have a built-in solution that can help: the exhaust fan.
To cut down on the cooking-related air pollution, just flip that exhaust fan to high and let it run while you get your Gordon Ramsay on. If you have a gas or propane stove, be especially diligent about using the exhaust fan whenever your range is on. Fuel-burning appliances can add small amounts of carbon monoxide and formaldehyde to your indoor air, so adequate ventilation is essential whenever they’re running.
Similarly, self-cleaning ovens can add carcinogenic particulate matter to indoor air when they burn off food waste as part of the cleaning process. To mitigate that pollution, make sure your kitchen is well ventilated by using the exhaust fan, as well as ceiling fans in nearby rooms. Even in winter, it’s a good idea to crack your kitchen windows if you plan to let your oven clean itself.
5. Get an Air Purification Device
If you don’t already have one, consider investing in a portable or whole-house air purification system. Air purification devices feature HEPA filters, which are capable of trapping about 99.7% of even the most microscopic airborne particles.
If you’re like most people, you likely spend close to 90% of your day indoors. Even if you’re not particularly worried about your indoor air quality, you can benefit from one of these devices. Breathing clean indoor air isn’t a luxury; it’s essential for your overall health.
Improve Your Indoor Air Quality With Dust Doctors
Dealing with poor indoor air quality in your Twin Cities home? Let our team at Dust Doctors help you fix that! We specialize in comprehensive duct cleaning and air purification system installation, both of which can dramatically improve the condition of your indoor air.
To learn more or get started, give us a call today at 651-319-9777 or request a free quote, and we’ll get in touch.
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