TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is Indoor Air Quality?
- Why is indoor air quality important?
- Can Clean Air Improve my Health?
- How Do You Know if You Need to Improve Indoor Air Quality?
- 8 Ways to Improve Your Air Quality Right Now
- What are Dust Mites and How Do They Affect Air Quality?
- Three Ways to Get Rid of Dust Mites
- When Should You Replace Your Air Filter?
- What are the Benefits of Clean Air?
What is Indoor Air Quality?
You may want to know:
Indoor Air Quality refers to the level of pollution, allergens, and irritants found inside of homes, buildings, and other structures.
Without proper ventilation and cleanliness, any building can see a drop in indoor air quality, and it’s difficult to know how good or bad your indoor air quality is without professional assistance.
Good indoor air quality can benefit your life in a wide variety of ways! You’ll learn more about good indoor air quality a little later.
For now, you need to know what indoor air quality problems can do to you and your loved ones…
Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?
Indoor air pollutants can cause health problems immediately after exposure or potentially years later.
Without an air quality check, you have no way of knowing if you have been exposed to germs, chemicals, or allergens. You may experience cold & flu-like symptoms or develop respiratory diseases and cancers.
If you don’t intervene, some indoor air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, could be fatal to you and your loved ones.
Now, the big question you want answered:
Can Clean Air Improve my Health?
The answer is YES.
When you remove pollutants like secondhand smoke, mold, and dust from your air, you do your health a huge favor!
You can reduce your risk of cancer, fatal disease, allergic reaction, and even the common cold.
When you breathe easier, you live better.
And don’t worry…
I’m going to lay out eight steps you can take to improve indoor air quality very soon in this guide.
But, before we can fix any problem, we must identify it first.
How Do You Know If You Need to Improve Indoor Air Quality?
I’ve got good news and bad news for you:
First, the Bad News…
The majority of indoor pollutants are invisible to the naked eye.
Some, such as carbon monoxide, are odorless as well.
One type of indoor pollutant, dust mites, are actually live insects. You’ll learn all about them later in the guide!
But here’s the Good News:
You are able to determine whether you’re exposed to many pollutants using your eyes, nose, and ears.
Use Your Eyes
Take a moment right now and look around your home or business. What do you see?
If you see any of the following, you may have an indoor pollution problem:
- Fuel Burning Combustion Appliances (such as Wood or Propane stoves, burners, heaters, or ovens)
- Tobacco Products (Such as cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, pipes, or vaporizers)
- Deteriorated insulation (potential asbestos exposure)
- Newly-installed flooring, upholstery, or carpeting
- Household cleaning products
- Central Heating and Cooling systems
- Humidification devices
- Excess Moisture
- Visible mold
As you can see, not all of these are obvious candidates for pollutants. Some would consider a few of the items essentials.
Other Things to Consider...
You can greatly improve your air quality by improving your ventilation. Try opening windows and doors to allow fresh air to travel through and clean your space.
Even if you think your risk of exposure is low, you should consider having your indoor air quality checked as soon as possible.
After you’ve spotted visible signs of pollutants, it’s time to...
Follow Your Nose
Your sense of smell is a powerful tool in the fight against poor indoor air quality.
If you smell gas, smoke, formaldehyde, or mold, you could be at risk of illness or death from long term exposure.
If you suspect a gas leak inside your home or business, evacuate the building and dial 911.
Use your ears:
If you pay close attention, you can hear potential dangers that affect your indoor air quality.
If you use natural gas appliances in your home, listen for a telltale hissing sound; that hiss is a sign of a possible gas leak.
You should also listen for and report any unusual dripping or running water sounds. Leaking pipes or HVAC systems can cause mold and rot inside the walls of your home. Long-term exposure to mold is very dangerous, especially for children and the elderly.
It’s also important to listen for potential pollutant carriers in the nearby vicinity of your home or business. Your immediate outdoor environment can affect your indoor air quality long-term.
Do you live near active construction or renovation? Do you live near a farm that may be using pesticides or chemicals? If you can hear potential exposure, you may want to take active steps to protect your home, such as proper ventilation and air filtration.
These steps protect from all potential pollutants, even the living ones.
8 Ways to Improve Your Air Quality Right Now
You can do this.
You have the power to improve your indoor air quality right away.
Here are eight ways to fight back:
- Clean surfaces regularly, especially soft surfaces. While counters and floors can certainly get dusty, it’s soft surfaces like carpets, pillows, and upholstered furniture that hold onto the highest concentration of pollutants (especially dust mites!). Vacuum, wash, and disinfect!
- Perform regular HVAC care. Your system will get dusty and dirty over time, reducing its ability to filter the air properly. This can be achieved by replacing the air filter regularly, and by cleaning the ducts of your system. (You’re going to learn more about this in Chapter 5!)
- Open your windows to allow fresh air to circulate through the space. If you don’t have a clean HVAC system, opening windows is a terrific way to freshen the indoor air.
- Keep pets and their areas clean. Pet hair and dander dramatically reduce indoor air quality. In addition, moisture from pet saliva and waste can create mold if not properly dealt with.
- Keep humidity under 50% inside your space. Use a dehumidifier to deal with this issue.
- Get an air purifier. These machines help trap pollutants inside of a single room. They are a great backup to your air conditioning system!
- Regularly check plants for mold. Plants and flowers can develop mold that is incredibly unsafe for you and your family. Do a regular check just to make sure you’re safe.
- When you do find mold, clean it right away. Mold is highly hazardous to humans and animals. If you find any in your home, get rid of it immediately!
With these steps, you can improve indoor air quality in your home or business right away.
If you are even able to start with step 1, you will make a huge impact; dust mites are a big obstacle in your path to clean indoor air.
It’s time to learn just what they are...
What are Dust Mites and How Do They Affect Air Quality?
Dust mites are microscopic insects that feed on the dead skin cells that we leave behind every day. They’re .25-.33 millimeters in length; invisible to the naked eye.
Why should you worry about dust mites?
Dust mites are one of the leading triggers of allergies in the world. They can cause rashes on the skin, as well as sneezing, runny nose, and post-nasal drip.
They thrive in soft surfaces, and are attracted to musty, dusty spaces with poor indoor air quality. When your air isn’t clean, you will attract dust mites and exacerbate existing symptoms brought on by poor indoor air quality.
So how can you get rid of dust mites? Well...
Three Ways to Get Rid of Dust Mites
Some good news for you:
Dust mites are easy to eliminate!
-Wash your bedding weekly in water that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are unable to wash the bedding in hot water, consider drying the bedding for 15 minutes or more at a high temperature.
-Reduce your humidity. Dust mites love humid spaces. You can use your HVAC system or a dehumidifier to achieve your goal. Ideally, you should reduce your humidity to below 50% to see a drop in dust mite population.
-Use a high efficiency air filter in your HVAC system, with a MERV rating of at least 11 or 12.
If you want to improve indoor air quality right away, replacing your air filter is a great place to start.
When Should You Buy or Replace Your Air Filter?
Do you have allergies, live in a highly populated area, or live with family members or pets?
If so, you should strongly consider filtering your air for contaminants. Filtering your air can improve indoor air quality for you by a high margin, by trapping dust, dust mites, and other particles.
There are two major types of air filters: HVAC system air filters, and air purifier filters.
If your home has air conditioning, good news! You have an air filter. However, it’s hard to know when your filter is working for you.
Your air filter may already be choked with pollutants and allergens. How do you know when to replace it?
Here’s what you need to know:
If you live alone, without pets, in a rural area, you should change your air filter every 6-12 months.
However, if you live in a suburban home with other people, but no pets, you should change your filter every 90 days.
Now, if you add a pet to your home, that window tightens to every 60 days.
Finally, if you have multiple pets or if anyone in the home has allergies, you should consider changing your air filter every 3-6 weeks. Changing your air filter often is essential to improve indoor air quality. This is especially true for anyone with allergies to dust, pets, pollen, or pollution in your area.
As for air purifiers, every manufacturer is different. They usually list a guide to changing air filters in the provided instructions for the unit.
If you aren’t sure whether your air filter should be changed, or if you don’t know how to change it, consider contacting professional help. In Phoenix, AZ, the best option is Valley’s Best Air Conditioning. They can tackle all of your indoor air quality needs.
What are the Benefits of Clean Air?
You might want to know:
Good indoor air quality has been linked to better sleep, can reduce indoor odors, and improve quality of life immensely for allergy sufferers.
You will also think more clearly--
In a study conducted by Harvard and Syracuse, participants in a clean indoor air quality environment reported improved cognitive function across nine different areas of the brain.
If you use air conditioning in your home or business, clean air quality can actually reduce your energy costs -- clean air optimizes your HVAC system health, and it can run less frequently.
You did it! You’re ready to improve indoor air quality inside your home or business. If you want professional help tackling this complex issue, consider hiring an HVAC installation and repair company.