The EPA reports that interior air is generally of worse quality than the air outdoors, so if you’ve lamented the smog-laden state of the air in your city, you might want to focus your attentions a little closer to home. In fact, the air quality in the average home is 2-5 times more polluted, according to EPA studies, and in some cases it can be as high as 100 times worse than the air outside. But how does this happen? It may have to do with the many pollutants we bring into our homes (think aerosols and cleaning solvents). Or it could be linked to normally occurring particulates like mold, mildew, dust, dander, and so on. It might have to do with your ventilation, or lack thereof. But whatever is causing your interior air quality to wane, you’ll be happy to hear that there are easy and effective ways to clear the air and breathe easy.
The place to start is by addressing the landscape of your home interior, and there are a couple of areas to focus on. For starters, you might have a lot of plush surfaces in your home, including carpeting, furniture, drapery, and more. You might not know quite how these items relate to your air quality, but plush surfaces tend to attract dust, dander, and other pollutants. They trap and hold these particulates and then release them into the air when you walk or sit, just for example. So swapping out plush surfaces for hardwood flooring, metal blinds, and leather furniture could make your cleaning tasks easier and improve your interior air quality significantly.
You’ll also want to look at the chemicals you bring into your home, and you might be surprised to learn that the paint on your walls, your home furnishings, and even your cleaning solvents could be to blame for poor indoor air quality. All are laden with chemical toxins that are released into the air, sometimes immediately and sometimes for an unbelievable duration of time. So ridding yourself of chemical byproducts could be a step in the right direction. Of course, you also need to make sure that outside pollutants aren’t getting in. And a home energy audit can give you the information you need to seal leaks, making your home more energy efficient in the process. Just make sure you include proper ventilation in your equation – without it your interior air can quickly become stale.
Finally, you need to think about how to pull contaminants from the air once they’re there, because mold is always lurking, people and pets create dander galore, and your furnishings shed fibers through normal wear and tear. Regular cleaning can go a long way towards reducing the particulates that foul up your interior air, especially when you use green cleaners and a HEPA filter vacuum. But you really need to take your efforts a step further if you are worried about your breathable air or you happen to suffer from asthma, allergies, or other respiratory disorders. In this case you could use portable air purifiers throughout the house. Or you might want to hook up a whole-home system to your HVAC. Knowing when to replace filters and difference between single and two stage furnace options could help with the pollutants in your air, but adding a HEPA filter to the mix will certainly improve your indoor air quality.