When people think of indoor air quality, pollutants like dust and smog from the outdoors often come to mind. However, there are some household items that we make regular use of that can also contribute to the problem of poor indoor air quality. Understanding the dangers of such items can help you make more informed purchasing decisions and adopt habits that will reduce their impact if you cannot do without them. Below are some ways to improve air quality but the blog on Absolute Airflow lists eleven ways to improve air quality.
We love our cleaning products not just for helping sanitize the home but also for leaving behind a lingering fresh smell. Unfortunately, many cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are air pollutants, especially when the products are scented. VOCs can cause respiratory problems like irritation of the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty breathing. They can also damage a person’s central nervous system and may be carcinogenic.
It is better to opt for odorless cleaning products that will have lower VOC levels or use natural cleaning products like vinegar and baking soda that are VOC-free.
Carpet and Fabric Upholstery
Carpets can be a source of air pollution if not properly cleaned. Their fibers capture a lot of dust, animal dander, pet hair, and other fine particles. Carpets and rugs do not become thoroughly cleaned even with regular vacuuming as other hard surfaces like wood floors and tile. Fabric upholstered furniture is also highly exposed and will capture the same pollutants in its fibers.
The upholstery and foam in new furniture and furnishings also tend to have high levels of VOCs. This is why people prone to allergies and have a weakened immune system are sometimes advised to invest in second-hand furniture that will have had their VOCs dissipated.
There are many types of aerosol sprays that we use daily. These could be for personal care products like hairspray and deodorant or cleaning products like furniture polish. Unfortunately, about half of VOC emissions come from such household products. The best option would be to look for products you need or use daily, but in another form besides aerosol sprays.
Whether it is for lighting or the lovely smell, using a candle does contribute to air pollution. When lit, candles release many fine and ultra-fine particles that can prove inflammatory to the lungs and can even trigger an asthma attack. Those of the scented variety also produce formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen. If you must use them, opt for those made using beeswax or soy.
A can of air freshener can contain over a hundred different chemicals in its make-up that can trigger all kinds of reactions, including asthma attacks, coughing, difficulty breathing, and migraines. These chemical-based pollutants may help make a room smell better, but you risk your health by using them. A better option would be to use natural alternatives like vinegar, lemon juice, essential oils, or fragrant houseplants. You could also opt to open a window.
How your HVAC System Helps
HVAC systems are primarily used to regulate temperature. Thanks to having air filters, your system can also help to reduce the level of airborne pollutants. However, these systems can do with a helping hand, especially in spaces biological pollutants are at their peak and increasingly likely to trigger health problems in the building’s occupants.
Installing a UV purification system in your HVAC system will help to reduce further the level of airborne pollutants like bacteria, viruses, and mold. The wavelength light produced by a UV purification system can inactivate these pathogens, rendering them incapable of multiplying and thus killing them. This augmentation to your HVAC system will be especially beneficial if you have occupants with a weakened immune system or allergies.