Are you worried about the air quality that you are constantly exposed to? Whether it is air pollution outdoors or the poor quality of air indoors, you must have wished that you can do something about it. Often, however, there isn’t much that you can do to control the air quality that you are exposed to when you are outdoors driving, shopping or enjoying a night out. But your house is your domain and there are quite a few things you can do to control the air quality at your home.
This article will help you in understanding the causes that lead to the deterioration of the air quality in your house. But most of all, it will help you in learning how you can prevent the air quality from deteriorating.
What leads to the deterioration of air quality in my house?
There can be many reasons for the poor air quality in your house. Some of these are:
- Use of oil, gas or kerosene - These are sources of air pollution.
- Use of certain building materials while remodeling your house – They can lead to reduction in the air quality.
- Unclean carpets and rugs in your living space – They can be a major source of pollutants in the air.
- Upholstery which has not been cleaned - Tends to attract a lot of dust and dust mites, a major reason for deterioration in air quality.
- Improper maintenance and cleaning of your cabinets and furniture - Also lead to the accumulation of dirt.
- Heating and cooling systems - Irregular cleaning and maintenance of your air ducts or your dehumidifiers are a major cause of deterioration in the air quality.
- A smoker in the family - The air quality will tend to be poor because of cigarette smoke.
- Pets such as dogs or cats
- Use of cleaning products, pesticides and even air sprays
- Improper ventilation in the house - Can lead to a build up of air pollutants inside your house and can cause health problems to the residents.
What are the harmful effects of poor air quality?
The effects of living in a house with poor air quality can appear within a few days or may take a few years to be felt.
If you or any other family member is suffering from allergies, dizziness, irritation in the nose, throat and ears, irritation or redness in the eyes, unexplained headaches, tiredness without any obvious reason, it could be because of your exposure to indoor air pollution.
Likewise, if you or a family member is suffering from asthma or any other respiratory disorders, exposure to poor air quality can lead to the appearance of symptoms of these diseases.
I want to prevent the air quality in my house from deteriorating? What steps can I take as a homeowner?
The best strategy for preventing the air quality in your house from deteriorating is to go after the source. Here are a few steps that you can take to prevent the air quality in your house from deteriorating.
1. Control biological contamination in the house - Biological contaminants are one of the major causes of poor air quality in the house. They can lead to allergies, asthma, sneezing, redness and irritation in the eyes, dizziness, breathlessness, fatigue and also some infectious diseases. Pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, young children and people with weak immune systems are especially prone to the allergens released in the air by these biological contaminants.
It is very important that the growth and presence of these organisms is controlled. These contaminants can grow in the form of molds and mildews in damp and moist places in the house. They can be in the form of saliva and dander from your pets.
They can also be in the form of pollen floating around in the house, in the form of bacteria and viruses growing in unclean and unhygienic areas of the house and in the form of urine from rodents.
Here are some of the reasons why your house can be at a risk of biological contamination:
- If your central air conditioning systems are contaminated or functioning improperly
- If there is excess accumulation of water in areas in or around your house
- If your carpets and rugs are damp and moist
- If the humidity levels in your house are high
- If you have mice or rats in your house
- If you have pets residing inside your house
- If you have cockroaches or other pests in your house
You can prevent the deterioration of the air quality in your house by controlling biological contamination. Here are a few steps you can take to control biological contamination:
- By controlling the relative humidity and keeping it below 50%, the growth of molds and mildews can be reduced.
- Remove standing water and any water-damaged items in the house. Don’t allow any areas in the house to stay wet for more than 24 hours. Molds, mildews and other microbes can easily grow in these wet settings.
- Regularly clean carpets, upholstery, furniture and cabinets. These are especially susceptible to dampness and dust, making them ideal areas for the growth of disease-causing microbes and dust mites.
- Use exhaust fans in the areas in the house which are prone to dampness such as the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. These exhaust fans should be vented to the outdoors so that they are able to throw out the moist air from inside the house and thereby prevent the air quality from deteriorating.
- Molds and mildews tend to often grow in attics and crawl spaces. These areas in the house are vulnerable to water damage and moisture and are often overlooked. Make sure that these areas are well-ventilated.
- If you are using humidifiers in the house, make sure that they are cleaned properly on a daily basis.
- Evaporation trays in refrigerators, air conditioners and dehumidifiers contain water and are therefore, ideal places for the breeding of molds and mildews. They should be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent their growth and for improving the air quality in the house.
- If your carpets and rugs are water damaged, clean them properly. If possible, replace them immediately. It is difficult to disinfect wet carpets and they, thus, lead to growth of molds and mildews and air quality deterioration.
- Clean the house daily. The only way to get rid of pollens, animal dander and hair, dust mites and rodents is to keep the house clean. Keeping the house will help in improving the air quality in the house.
- Avoid using furnishings and upholstery that tend to accumulate dust.
- Wash your bed sheets, cushion covers, curtains, sofa and table covers regularly in warm water. This will help in reducing the presence of dust and dust mites. This will especially be useful for those who are prone to allergies.
- Clean and disinfect your basement drains regularly and thoroughly. Use a dehumidifier. Make sure there are no leaks. Make sure that the basement is well-ventilated.
2. Use stoves, heaters, fireplaces carefully – Improperly working gas stoves and heaters can lead to a build up of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particles in the indoor air. This can significantly reduce the air quality.
Here are some precautions which you should take while using stoves, heaters and fireplaces:
- If the heater or stove is malfunctioning, get it fixed immediately.
- Open a door or window in the house when you are using a heater.
- Make sure that gas burners are properly adjusted.
- Install exhaust fans over the gas stoves.
- Inspect your furnaces and chimneys on a regular basis. Repair any damaged parts or cracks immediately.
3. Use of household cleaning products and pesticides – Products used for household cleaning, waxing and disinfecting often use organic chemicals. Pesticides are also often used in houses to get rid of pests. They also contain harmful chemicals which can lead to air quality deterioration. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can lead to visual disorders and memory impairment. Here are some precautions which you can take while using these household cleaning products:
- Throw away unneeded chemicals and cans immediately.
- While using them, make sure that the house is well-ventilated.
- Buy small and limited amounts of such chemicals.
- Use pesticide methods which are preferably non-chemical based.
- After using a pesticide, make sure that you ventilate the area.
4. Stop smoking - Stop smoking in the house. Smoking is one of the major reasons for poor air quality in the house. If someone in the family smokes, ask them to go outdoors. This will reduce the exposure which non-smokers in the family, especially children, get from tobacco smoke.
If for some reason, you cannot avoid smoking indoors, make sure that the ventilation in the area is improved. You can do this by opening doors and windows.
If there are infants and toddlers in the house, move to a different and well-ventilated area of the house. Children are very vulnerable to second hand smoke and deterioration of air quality in the house. Special care must be taken if there are children residing in the house.
If the air quality in your house is good, you can be assured that you and your family are well-protected from many diseases, illnesses and disorders. After all, most of our time is spent indoors.