Indoor Air Quality: What Should You Know and How Can You Improve it?
Air pollution refers to the condition if there are excessive quantities of solid particles and gases in the air. Various factors such as smog, automobile emissions, dust particles, exhaust from factories and industries, etc. contribute to air pollution.
Most of us are conscious of the air quality of the environment. But we often fail to notice the indoor air quality. In fact, the air quality inside our house is sometimes more polluted than the air outside. Hence, the indoor air quality has become a big concern for house owners, particularly during the winter season.
In simple terms, indoor air quality refers to the quality of air inside your house. From basement flooding to black mold in air ducts, various factors affect the indoor air quality. Inadequate ventilation, mold growth, high humidity levels, dust mites, etc. are also common reasons for poor indoor air quality.
Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?
Indoor air pollution is one of the most important environmental problems in the United States. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental dangers.
We spent more than 80% of our time indoors which includes office and home. Since the air indoors is trapped inside, it can become toxic and stale with impurities. If the indoor air quality of the office or home is poor, it will make you sick, lethargic and anxious.
Poor indoor air quality creates short term as well as long term health issues. The symptoms will vary depending on the type of contaminants. Some of the common symptoms of poor indoor air quality include throat irritation, watery eyes, fatigue, dizziness, headache, respiratory problems, etc.
Some severe health effects of indoor air quality include fever, myalgia, hearing loss, tachycardia, etc. although these are very rare. According to experts, prolonged exposure to toxic air can lead to asthma, lung cancer, pneumonia, systematic hypertension, COPD, etc. In the office environment, poor air quality is often the culprit behind low productivity and impaired decision making.
Sources of Pollution Inside Buildings
Various chemical and biological sources affect indoor air quality. Among chemical sources, carbon monoxide is one of the common contaminants. It is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that is considered as a hazardous gas.
Tobacco smoke, gas stoves, and heaters, wood stoves, gas chimneys, furnaces, etc. are common sources of carbon monoxide. If you have a garage, carbon monoxide emitted from automobiles can enter the rooms.
Other chemical components leading to the poor air quality inside the house are Nitrogen dioxide & pesticides. From mold and mildew to pets, there is a broad category of biological sources for indoor air pollution. In fact, every living being around you contributes to air pollution indoors which includes your furry friends as well.
Does Having a Pet Affect Indoor Air Quality?
No need to mention that there are numerous benefits of owning a pet. It is a fact that around 70% of homes in the US include a furry friend. Be it a rabbit, dog, cat or any other pet, most of us love their company.
However, there is another side to the coin. Pets can be one of the major reasons for poor air quality indoors. And either it is cat urine smell or smell from any other pet urine, it is one of the main causes of indoor odors. Moreover, saliva, urine, and feces of pets are also common allergens that are found inside homes.
Pet dander is an extremely tiny piece of skin that the pet sheds. Since these are minute particles, it can easily become airborne indoors. It floats freely in the air and settles itself on the carpet, furniture, clothing, etc. It can easily trigger allergy symptoms for people in the house.
And it is estimated that 10-15% of people in the country are allergic to pet dander. Hence, you should effectively eliminate pet dander from the home to maintain air quality.
Listed below are a few tips to limit pet dander indoors.
1. Ensure Proper Cleaning Regularly
As mentioned above, the problem with pet dander is that it is very light and can land on any surface and stick to it. For the same reason, it is very difficult to get rid of pet dander unless you clean everywhere effectively, on a regular basis.
There are various products available in the market to thoroughly remove pet dander. For example, a link roller with a sticky tape can be used for cleaning furniture and curtains. Or you can use shampoos for upholstery cleaning. For cleaning carpets, use a high power vacuum cleaner.
2. Keep the Pets Clean
Your furry friend may hate it. But it is very important to give them a regular bath. It helps to keep your home free of pet dander and thus improve your indoor air quality. It is estimated that by giving a weekly bath, the amount of dander on fur can be reduced up to 84%. You can find numerous products that claim to be the best dander shampoo in the market.
3. Keep the Pet Toys Clean
You can hardly stop your furry friend from licking the pet toys. However, you should know that dried saliva is a source of allergens which makes the air impure. So, make sure you wash the pet toys frequently and clean them thoroughly. Also, you should cover your nose and mouth while cleaning the pet toys and other properties.
4. Try Using an Air Purifier
Using air purifiers is one way to limit the presence of pet dander inside the house. It helps to remove tiny particles from the air. From table-top purifiers to whole-room options, you can find different varieties of air purifiers.
Indoor Air Quality and Duct Cleaning
As you know, air flows inside and outside of the room through the air ducts of your HVAC unit. That is the only way for the air to recycle itself. For that reason, the air ducts become the accumulation center of dirt, debris, worms, bacteria, other microorganisms, rodent droppings, etc.
These particles get released into the air inside if you ignore to clean the ducts regularly. It floats freely inside the home and will land on the furniture, food, carpet, etc. This is the air you breathe in, hence, the risk of allergens is higher if ducts are left unclean.
If you ignore to clean ducts and vents, it leads to a musty smell indoors, especially, during the winter season. A musty odor is one of the common signs of mold formation in the ducts. This musty smell is nothing but an aftereffect of accumulation of dust and dirt in the ducts.
If you sense an earthy or musty smell even after using air fresheners and cleaning agents, it is important to perform mold inspection and testing. When left to accumulate, the mold may grow and lead to various problems including structural damage to the property and severe allergies to the inmates.
So, make sure to take the assistance from a professional mold remediation service provider to prevent its growth. Also, make sure to conduct a detailed clean-up of the ducts on a regular basis to improve the air quality.
Here are a few tips to get rid of the odor that comes from air ducts.
1. Do Mold Check-Up:
When you sense a foul smell, the first step is to do a mold check-up. There are different types of mold found inside homes and some of them are not visible through naked eyes. Hence, it is better to take help from professionals.
2. Do Thorough Cleaning:
Sometimes dust and moisture in the ducts will lead to bad smell. Doing a weekly cleaning of the ducts will help to keep it moisture-free and prevent mold growth. You can clean the evaporator coils and drain plug and remove the ducts. You can use a damp cloth and wipe out the dust on the surface of the unit once a week.
If there is excess dust, you can use a powerful vacuum cleaner carefully to whisk away the dust accumulated in the ducts.
3. Get Professional Help:
To ensure better cleaning of the air ducts and keep it free of molds, it is always better to take the help of professional companies. They will have specialized equipment like compressors, brushes, vacuums, etc. to do the job efficiently.
Quick Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are a number of ways to improve the air quality in your home. Listed below are a few easy and quick tips to achieve better air quality.
1. Proper Ventilation:
If you want to make improvements in your indoor air quality, the first and foremost step is to ensure proper airflow. In summers, you can keep the doors and windows open to allow fresh air to come in.
2. Keep Humidity Level Normal:
Both low humidity and high humidity affect the indoor air quality adversely. Ideally, humidity levels should be between 30 to 50 percent to keep allergens under control. If the humidity levels are high, it may lead to mold formation and growth. During summer, you can use a dehumidifier to cut down humidity levels.
3. Do the Radon Test:
Radon is a colorless gas that is present inside homes. It flows from the basement to the rooms. You can conduct a radon test to understand its level and take the necessary steps to keep it under control.
4. Keep it Mold–Free:
Mold growth should be strictly avoided to maintain air quality. And moisture is one of the common reasons for mold growth. If you find moisture inside the house, make sure you do the necessary repair to keep it moisture-free.
5. Clean the Carpets:
Carpets often accumulate dust, dirt, pet dander and various other impurities in the air. It is the resting ground for many allergens and pollutants. Make sure you do regular vacuuming to keep it dust-free. Also, you can arrange professional house cleaning once in a while to keep an extra level of cleanliness.
6. Keep the Floor Clean:
Be its hardwood floor, tile floor or carpeted floor, the surface collects dust and dirt. To keep the air quality better, this dust has to be removed on a regular basis. Mop the surface using a non-abrasive product to keep it clean and attractive.
7. Use Purifiers:
Air purifiers help to purify the air around and improve air quality. There are different types of air purifiers available which range from high power equipment to mobile versions. If anyone in the home suffers from dust allergies, air purifiers would be highly beneficial.
8. Avoid Smoking:
If you are serious about maintaining indoor air quality, it is better to avoid smoking inside the room. The smoke that comes out of tobacco lands on the furniture and upholsteries in the room and create allergies.
Get in Touch with Us!
To wind up, indoor air quality is very important to keep the overall health of your family. If you are in need of professional help to improve the indoor air quality of your home, allow the experts at Dry Effect to help you.
We provide various services for improving indoor air quality such as mold inspection and testing, mold removal, air duct cleaning, foundation crack repair, odor removal services and more. At Dry Effect, our team is dedicated to improving the comfort and safety of your home.
If you are confused about the causes of poor indoor air quality in your home, feel free to get in touch with us.