Why Indoor Air Quality is Important and How to Improve It
We seldom give much thought to the quality of our indoor air until it becomes bad enough to demand our attention. However, considering how long we’re shut inside during a Philadelphia winter, we should always be concerned about our air quality.
How Indoor Air Quality Can Affect Your Health
Research estimates that people typically spend around 90% of their time inside. That includes your home, office, school, shopping centers, automobiles, and so forth.
If an estimated 90% of the air we breathe is indoor air, then it’s easy to see how indoor air could have a greater impact on our health than outdoor air. Breathing bad air can lead to respiratory illness, as well as chronic headaches, fatigue, and heart disease. Anyone already suffering from such conditions is going to be at even greater risk of worsening health if constantly exposed to low-quality indoor air.
How Does Your Indoor Air Become So Polluted?
Our indoor environment is partly influenced by our outdoor environment. For example, the air inside our homes will carry pollutants produced by traffic traveling the roads near our homes. There are also contaminants coming from that nearby construction site as well as our neighbor’s gas-powered weed trimmer.
But most of the damage to our indoor air happens inside. The building materials and furnishings in our home, such as carpet, continue to emit contaminants long after installation. Sometimes those emissions are so high that criminal investigations are the result. Lumber Liquidators agreed to pay $36 million to settle a class-action lawsuit after its laminate flooring was found to emit outrageously high levels of formaldehyde.
We add to the level of contaminants in the air each time we use a cleaning agent, furniture polish, candles, or air freshener. According to one study, a plug-in air freshener released seven compounds listed by the U.S. federal government as toxic or hazardous. Ordinary dust, pet dander, and tobacco smoke make matters worse.
The idea of heating our homes with wood or coal or other combustible fuels may seem nostalgic and romantic, but there’s a price to pay in air quality. In the Philadelphia area, you could burn quite a large amount of fuel over a typical winter. Of course, the more combustible fuel you use, the more you contaminate your air.
Ways to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
The easiest step that we can take to lower the level of contaminants in our indoor air is to copy our great-grandparents—open the windows regularly. Today’s houses are well-designed to keep out the elements. But that also means that they are very good at keeping the polluted indoor air trapped inside. Opening windows periodically is a simple and inexpensive way to breathe better air.
Another adjustment you can make is to reduce your use of heavily manufactured cleaning products. You can begin by reducing the amount of the product you use. In time, if possible, switch to a cleaner made from healthier natural ingredients. Recipes for such products can easily be found online. Generally, the formulas call for simple items that you’re likely to find in your kitchen cabinet.
If you want to make a huge improvement in your air quality this winter, don’t try to make it through the cold months again with a combustible fuel-based heater. Make the switch to a cleaner electric or natural gas system. A good centralized heating and cooling system or HVAC will also trap airborne particles in its filter, keeping those particles from continuing to pollute your home.
If you find that your home needs more filtration than is typical, your HVAC technician can also add an air cleaner to your system. A good air cleaner is capable of capturing even smaller particles than a standard filter, including the viruses that cause the common cold.
If you believe that you and your family deserve to breathe freely, contact HVAC Philly today to learn how you can get started improving your indoor air quality.