If you ever experience allergies, you probably first shake your fist at outdoor allergens such as pollen, mold, or ragweed. However, what is inside your home is likely having a greater impact on your symptoms than what’s outside. In fact, indoor air quality has been linked to not only allergies, but aggravating dangerous respiratory issues such as asthma and bronchitis. While you may not have given much thought to it, it isn’t surprising that indoor air quality is so important to your health. It is estimated that Americans spend 87 percent of their time indoors. That alone is reason to prioritize indoor air quality, but on top of that, pollutant levels indoors may be 100 times higher than outdoors. These facts may have you running for the door, but fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality.
Open Your Windows
Here in Florida, we are blessed with relatively warm weather all year round. This makes this simple and effective tip easier for us to accomplish. Opening your windows every day to let a little fresh air in is a good idea for several reasons. One, it lowers the concentrations of any toxic pollutants you may have in your home, as well as carbon dioxide levels. This is a particularly advantageous strategy if you have recently brought a pollutant into your home, such as a piece of pressed-wood furniture, or if you have painted recently. Make it a habit to open your windows for five-to-ten minutes a day for better indoor air quality.
Don’t Smoke Inside
Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes is bad for you, but it is terrible for your indoor air quality too. Cigarette smoke contains 4,000 different chemicals, all of which make their way into your home when you smoke inside. No level of secondhand smoke exposure is safe. The best course of action is obviously to quit smoking entirely, but if you are not ready, at least make sure to step outside before you light up.
Clean Your Home
Whether you clean every day or just once in a blue moon, dust and dirt in your home are inevitable, and they are negatively impacting your indoor air quality. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend your days obsessively dusting and vacuuming, but prioritizing keeping a tidy home can make a big difference in indoor air quality. Beyond regularly addressing the dirt, dust, and debris that accumulates on your furniture and in your carpets, use a doormat and encourage people to take their shoes off before they enter your home.
To limit the growth of mold and dust mites, keep the humidity of your home between 30 and 50 percent. Mold is a particularly important concern for indoor air quality. Many molds produce mycotoxins, which can have a negative impact on your health ranging from mild allergic reactions (stuffy nose, eye irritation) to severe asthma attacks. This is true even for people who do not have mold allergies. Even in healthy people, mold exposure may cause respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.
Fortunately, keeping your humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent can help you prevent mold growth. You may consider installing a dehumidifier system in your home, or smaller models through various rooms. When you are taking a shower or bath, open a window to allow some of the steam to escape. Additionally, remember to always empty your air conditioner’s drip pans, and make sure there are no leaks anywhere in your home.
Avoid Synthetic Fragrances
Synthetic fragrances are everywhere, from our air fresheners to our hand soap to our laundry detergent. However, these products often contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are detrimental to your health. These chemicals are typically not listed on the packages, and in the United States, fragrance safety tests typically look at skin irritations and do not consider the dangers of inhalation. These products can have a major impact on your indoor air quality, so consider natural fragrance solutions instead. Try using lemon slices to perfume your home, and invest in fragrance-free laundry detergents and other products. Stop using aerosol spray cans.
Invest in an Air-Filtering Plant
When it comes to indoor air quality, a houseplant can be your best friend. Some are able to eliminate toxic allergens including benzene, trichlorethylene, and formaldehyde from indoor air. These plants also absorb certain VOCs. With this in mind, if you want to improve your indoor air quality, bring some air-filtering plants into your home, such as English ivy, Variegated snake plants, Peace lilies, or a chrysanthemum.
Keep Your Pets Groomed
Indoor air quality is a problem for many pet owners, particularly if your cat or dog sheds a lot. Pet hair and dander collects in air vents, leading allergy sufferers to have difficulty breathing in your home. Fortunately, if you need your pet well-groomed and vacuum regularly, this is less of an issue. Brush your pet at least once a week to address excess hair.
Clean Air Ducts
The HVAC system of your home is the source of most of your indoor air, and if your ducts are filled with microbes, mildew, bacteria, and dust, you and your family are breathing in these toxins on a regular basis. This means that cleaning out your ducts is important to prioritize. However, this is not a DIY project, no matter how handy you consider yourself. Fortunately, at North Central Florida Heating and Air, we have extensive experience cleaning ducts, and would be happy to help you improve your indoor air quality. Contact us today for a quote!