How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
The quality of indoor air can be adversely affected by homes being shut up tight and because of the condition and nature of furnishings and the building materials used in home construction. Typically we can spend up to 90% of our time indoors, especially in winter when windows are closed tight reducing the exchange of fresh air. Indoor levels of pollution are often 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and often higher.
The most common sources of indoor air pollution include:
- building materials including paint
- furnishings and flooring
- central heating and cooling systems
- natural gas appliances or wood stoves/fireplaces
- hobby materials
- personal care products and air fresheners
Anytime something is sprayed, a device operated, or a room walked through, pollution is probably being created.
The good news is that there are numerous things that we can do to improve our indoor air quality and reduce the negative effects of indoor air pollution. The three main strategies to improve indoor air quality fall under the categories of Source Removal and Source Control, Improved Ventilation, and Utilization of Air Cleaners.
Source Removal and Source Control: Usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to reduce sources of pollution and the emissions they create. Asbestos is obvious, but gas stoves and appliances can be adjusted to decrease emissions. Avoid spraying pesticides or chemical cleaners. Apply cleaners to a cloth and wipe instead of spraying. This is in general an energy efficient strategy. Keep your furnace ,heating and ventilation system operating efficiently. Keep furnace filters clean and your humidity levels between 30 and 60%. Install a carbon monoxide detector and test your home for radon. Keep flooring clean, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and mop up dust and spills. Keep good entrance mats at doorways and brush pets outside. In general, keep your home clean to minimize dust mites, pollen, dander, and other biological air pollutants.
Improved Ventilation: Most heating and cooling systems do not operate all the time, nor do they circulate fresh air. Consider using window or attic fans, and running kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans longer. Newer homes may have the option for air to air heat exchangers which brings in fresh air while remaining energy efficient. Also opening windows and doors weather permitting can be beneficial to freshen up and recycle indoor air.
Utilization of Air Cleaners: Air filters and cleaners can help to remove toxins from indoor air but vary widely in cost and effectiveness. The effectiveness of a particular air cleaner depends on how efficiently the air cleaner collects ‘polluted’ indoor air and how much of this air it directs through the filtering material. Long term performance of air cleaners depends on regular maintenance according to manufacture’s directions. Do your research before purchase to see if the air cleaner will meet your needs and habits. There is also some evidence that houseplant provide a natural filtration system.
If you have any questions about your indoor air quality call Ram Cleaning Services at 403-291-1051 and talk to one of our cleaning specialists.
Complete cleaning and maintenance care in Calgary and area since 1967
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