Thursday, June 07, 2018

Reducing Air Pollutants Inside Your Home

(We have noted for many years that the answer to outdoor air pollution is not to stay inside. That remains true today: the best way to deal with air pollution is to reduce or eliminate harmful emissions.  As for indoor air, dirty air from the outside can enter your home.  And, as our friend Emily Folk notes below, there are other inside air issues to consider as well. Please note: going forward, Clean Air Watch will no longer accept guest posts. Many thanks to the many folks who have offered.)     

Your home may seem clean to you, but there’s a good chance that it’s not nearly as clean as you think. In fact, the EPA states that indoor air quality may be significantly worse than the air outside. That’s a serious problem, especially if you’re someone who suffers from allergies or if you spend a lot of time indoors. And let’s face it, pretty much everyone does.

Change Batteries Frequently

Having a carbon monoxide detector in your home is excellent practice. Many CO detectors also come with radon detectors as well. Unfortunately, they won’t work if the batteries are dead! Make sure they are listed as part of your updates at least whenever the season change. Each equinox, take a few minutes to double check the CO detectors, fire alarms and house alarms if you have them. The fire and house alarms won’t keep your air cleaner, but since you’re checking the alarms you might as well get them done too.

Keep Up to Date with Air Filters

Your HVAC system has air filters. Those are important, and you need them to be clean and fresh to keep working well. Just like a car, a dirty filter can restrict airflow and cause your system to work harder. It can also send old, gross dust, pollen and other pollutants soring back through your air ducts. If they get bad enough, they’ll start polluting your air instead of keeping it clean. How often you need to change your air filter varies, but the average tends to be around every two months. You’ll need to change it more often if you have pets, kids or allergies, and less often if you live alone or travel frequently.

Get Decent Ventilation

An updated and well-functioning HVAC system is your best bet against air pollutants. Not only will it keep the air inside your home cleaner, but it will also help prevent you from losing the heat or cold in your home. That means your system doesn’t have to work as hard and can result in you reducing your home’s carbon footprint.
That’s an essential and often overlooked aspect. All the things we do to keep our homes comfortable come at a cost. When heating our homes, that cost is about 10,000 deaths per year, which is how bad the air pollution in our world has gotten.

Add Some Greenery

Plants are well-known for their benefits. They use photosynthesis to take in CO2 and put out oxygen. Some plants, however, take in more than just CO2. Some of them will help to scrub the air in your home of particulates. Many of the classic houseplants are excellent for this, including peace lilies, spider plants and bamboo, among others. Both the plants and the soil they’re in help to filter out different irritants from the air, making them an attractive option for most people.

Do Spring Cleaning More Often

Cleaning around the house is a great way to stir up dust and make yourself sneeze a bunch. While it may seem like you’re making things worse, this is very helpful. Taking the time to vacuum out your air ducts might seem excessive, but it really does make a difference. If you don’t do that, then you’re placing an extra burden on your air filter to get rid of those particles. Instead, you can suck them up while they’re there and available. That will help keep your filter clean, longer and will increase the chances of you getting rid of debris that can create odors. Mouse poop might not get airborne, but you can undoubtedly tell something is there!

Install an Air Purifier

Air purifiers are excellent for people that spend a lot of time in their home, have a number of pollutants, or are sensitive to airborne particles. These are designed to help filter air, similar to a water filter, and will help remove some of the issues you might experience. They’re especially useful for people who have pets or allergies. They don’t have to be expensive, but if houseplants aren’t doing the trick, then an air purifier might be what you need.
These aren’t the only solutions to our air quality issues. What we really need is to clean up our act so we can start breathing again, both inside and out. But these are some steps you can take to make your home as pleasant and comfortable as possible.
Emily Folk is a freelance writer and blogger, covering topics in conservation, sustainability and renewable energy. To see her latest posts, check out her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter.

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