Air pollution is not just something that effects the atmosphere outside which is basically smog, dust or haze hanging in the air. The truth is that most pollutants are found inside homes and commercial buildings, which quite shockingly can be 10 times more polluted than the air found outside. Indoor air can be polluted due to volatile chemicals, dust, lead, radon, allergens, formaldehyde, etc. These pollutants make their way indoors through shoes, pets, or exist on the surface of carpets, furniture and paint on the walls. A major allergen is found on these items called dust mites which are microscopic in size and contain mold and dander.
Indoor pollutants will affect people with respiratory problems, seniors and children especially those who are sensitive to these conditions. Other health problems may surface later after repeated exposure to harmful allergens. The need to improve indoor air quality has become important over recent years because we all spend more time indoors. Modern homes are built airtight and that’s the main reason that these pollutants don’t escape from inside.
During the summer months, you can try boosting the quality of air indoors by minimizing the use of harsh cleaners and air fresheners. These chemicals can linger in the air for long periods of time and can become the major source of air pollution indoors.
You can follow these simple tips to improve indoor air quality during summer to ensure a safe and healthy living environment for you and your family members.
- Clean it up – Allergens and chemicals can linger in the air for years, thereby increasing the amount of dust and lead content indoors. You can use a vacuum cleaner with strong suction power, rotating brushes and quality filter to ensure that the dirt and dust does not get blown back out in the exhaust. You need to vacuum high traffic areas like carpets, walls and upholstered furniture where dust can easily accumulate. It’s important to wash the air filter also regularly.
- Keep dust outside – Shoes can bring in all the dirt, dust and pollutants from outside into your home. Place mats at the entrance to your home so that some amount of the pollutants get trapped on the mat and not on the floors of your home.
- Mop it up – Mopping the floors of your home cleans up the leftover dust that vacuuming leaves behind. New micro fiber mops with plain, clean water can effectively clean the surface area without the use of harsh cleaners and detergents.
- Avoid the use of harsh chemicals and cleaners – Household items like lemon juice, baking soda and vinegar can clean and disinfect as effectively as conventional cleaners. These items will not put harsh chemicals in the air.
- Change AC filters regularly – Proper maintenance of your AC systems can help with improving indoor air quality. It’s very important to clean air filters regularly and replace them with new ones every two or three months.
- Avoid the use of synthetic fragrances and air fresheners – A combination of various chemicals are used for air fresheners and fragrances which can irritate people’s nasal passage and lungs. You can use natural sources like fresh flowers, essential oils to add a pleasant fragrance indoors.
- Install plants – A natural way to filter toxins and purify the air is by keeping plants around the house. To get the best results, try incorporating at least fifteen to eighteen plants into a standard home of 1800 square footage.
- Test for radon – You could have a radon problem if you have a new or old home. This odorless, colorless gas raises the potential for developing lung cancer. If someone in your home smokes, then your indoors has high radon levels. Second hand cigarette smoke or passive smoking is worse as it induces health problems like heart attacks, lung cancer, breathing problems, etc. Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals so whoever smokes indoors in doing harm to themselves and to others around them. Either it’s best to kick the habit or smoke outside.
Maintain healthy levels of humidity – Mold and dust mites love moisture and thrive in very humid conditions. It’s important to maintain around 30%-50% of humidity indoors to keep allergens under control. A dehumidifier will help in reducing moisture and control allergens during the summer months. Other ways to dehumidify would be to use exhaust fans in kitchens/bathrooms, fix leaky plumbing, vent the clothes dryer to the outside, stop over watering the house plants and empty drip pans in your window AC.