How to improve air quality at home: 8 tips to try

You may often come across news stories about air pollution and its effects on public health. But how often do you think about indoor air quality?

While outdoor air pollution is certainly a concern, it can be easy to forget that the quality of the air you breathe at home can be just as important.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), levels of indoor air pollutants may not only reach 100 times higher Of the outdoor air pollutants, they can have an even greater impact on your health.

The health effects of indoor air pollution depend on the type of pollutant present in the air, but can include:

People with respiratory or heart conditions, as well as young children and the elderly, may be more likely to develop some of the health problems associated with low indoor air quality.

Unexplained respiratory symptoms can provide evidence that it’s time to check the air quality in your living space. But other times, even contaminants that can cause harm go undetected completely for years.

Taking steps to improve indoor air quality can help you reduce your risk of developing health conditions and may even improve your quality of life. We have eight tips to get you started.

An important way to keep the air inside your home clean involves learning about common sources of pollution and avoiding adding pollutants when you can.

some common pollutants Include:

radon

Radon, a radioactive natural gas, can seep through cracks in the ground and build up in your home, leading to health problems including lung cancer.

Home testing kits provide a simple way to check for unsafe levels of radon gas in your home. If the test detects high levels of radon in the air, you can usually reduce the radon gas by sealing off the foundation of your home so the gas does not seep into your living space.

Learn more about radon and how to deal with it.

Passive smoking

Passive smoking refers to the smoke emitted from cigarettes. Anyone exposed may have a file higher risk For developing health concerns, including certain types of cancer. Third-hand smoke, found on surfaces such as clothing or furniture that absorbs it, is also a health hazard.

The best way to keep secondhand smoke out of your living space is to avoid smoking indoors. If possible, it may also be a good idea to cut back on the habit, because third-hand smoke on your clothes may also be still affects Living space and air quality.

formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a common volatile organic compound, or VOC – one of the many harmful gases sometimes emitted from common household items.

Formaldehyde is commonly found in adhesives used in composite wood and many types of furniture, and can leach into indoor air. Overexposure can cause respiratory problems, including bronchitis.

You can reduce the effects of formaldehyde on air quality by:

  • Choose used furniture over new furniture – Furniture tends to release less formaldehyde over time
  • Choosing solid wood furniture over composite wood

cleaning products

Some cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that may remain in the air, including:

  • glass cleaners
  • air fresheners
  • whitening
  • cleaning sprays

Choosing the safest, non-toxic cleaning products can help you keep your home clean, without the extra pollutants found in some standard cleaning products.

If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home but aren’t sure what changes can help you the most, the best place to start is with an air quality test.

You can either choose the DIY path or contact the professionals.

Which method you choose can depend on your needs. It’s often less expensive to do it yourself, but working with a professional will likely produce more comprehensive and personal results.

DIY Air Quality Test

You can find a variety of air quality test kits online. Some kits allow you to check for multiple pollutants, while others test only one pollutant, such as radon.

Since many at-home test kits are not comprehensive, it may make sense to do an at-home test if you are only interested in checking for one or two specific contaminants. If you want a full panel of results, working with a professional may be more effective in the long run.

Comprehensive home tests generally cost up to $200, but you may need to spend more when looking for more contaminants.

Professional Air Quality Test

Hiring a professional will likely cost more than using a test kit, but many professionals offer additional services to help you manage any sources of contamination found during testing. For example, professionals who provide air quality testing may also specialize in mold prevention and removal.

You’ll typically find a combination of allergens and irritants in many indoor settings, including:

Maintaining these allergens will usually improve the overall air quality in your home, not to mention reduce your chances of suffering from respiratory symptoms, including

  • Runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • Sore throat
  • sneezing
  • rash
  • eager, eager

Managing allergens in your home requires both prevention and care.

Preventive strategies to control allergens included:

  • Clean and bathe your pet regularly
  • Wash bedding with hot water twice a month to eliminate dust mites
  • Choose hypoallergenic pillows and impermeable mattresses to prevent dust mites

You can also remove allergens from indoor air by:

  • Vacuum and dust to prevent the buildup of pet dander, dust and dust mites
  • Wash mold from impermeable surfaces, such as tiles and metal, using bleach or a soapy solution
  • Remove and replace carpet, wood, or drywall where mold grows

Bringing an air purifier into your home is one effective way to keep the air clean. You may want to choose an air purifier with a High Efficiency Particulate Absorption (HEPA) filter, as these do the best job of removing harmful particles from the air.

HEPA filters may remove more than 99 percent of harmful particles from the air, in fact.

Air purifiers cannot remove all types of pollution, so you may want to consider an air filter if you want to reduce:

  • VOC
  • smoking
  • mold spores
  • Excess carbon dioxide
  • Allergens such as pet dander

An air purifier with a HEPA filter can help remove influenza virus particles from the air.

Are you looking for an air filter but don’t know where to start? Check out our list of the best HEPA air purifiers.

Maintaining air flow in your home offers a simple (and potentially cost-free) way to improve air quality. One way to do this is to open windows and doors to allow some outside air to flow in – as long as the outside air is clean or low in pollen.

But air enters your home through air vents as well as through weak points such as small spaces around doors. Although there is not much you can do about the air entering through these vents, making sure that air is directed into your living space through the vents is not contributing to the problem may help.

this means:

  • Change any filters regularly in your home’s heating and cooling systems
  • Ensure that the air ducts in your home are clean and free of obstructions, as dust can build up over time
  • Check and change filters in appliances that introduce air into your home according to the manufacturer’s instructions

Humidity indoors can lead to many health risks, including mold growth. Humidity and high humidity may also cause VOCs to leach into the air.

Wet indoor environments can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • humid climates
  • Pipe or roof leaks
  • Areas where water collects
  • Low ventilation in areas with a lot of steam, such as bathrooms and kitchens

Humid conditions can lead to many respiratory symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks.

You can reduce the humidity in your living area by:

  • using a dehumidifier
  • Turn on a fan or open a window when showering or cooking
  • Finding and removing water or moisture gathering areas in your home

Some heating systems can have a significant impact on air quality.

Wood stoves and fireplaces can release large amounts of harmful particles into indoor air, which can increase the risk of long-term health conditions such as lung cancer.

Other potentially high-risk heating options include old oven heating systems and gas heaters.

Gas heating systems have the potential to release more carbon monoxide, an odorless gas that can cause suffocation and death, into the air. Some experts recommend the use of gas appliances with direct openings, which prevent gas from mixing with indoor air.

Solar and electric heating options can keep indoor air cleaner than other heating systems. If you have the option, these are your best bets for cleaner air.

People usually advise using house plants to help disinfect the air in your home.

However, research on this is still contradictory.

A 2017 research review found that houseplants can help reduce specific indoor air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds and particulate matter, but the results of several studies differed when it came to how much indoor plants really affected.

Moreover, the results of a file 2019 review They suggest that the ventilation already in most buildings removes more VOCs from the air than indoor plants.

Houseplants may contribute to more problems than they solve if they become a source of mold or trigger an allergy to you.

Another factor to consider is the type of plant. When it comes to removing pollutants, not all plants are created equal.

Plants recognized as most effective in keeping indoor air clean include:

  • Dracaenaa common type of houseplant that often has sword-shaped leaves that come in many colors
  • Spathiphyllumalso known as the peace lily
  • Hedira Helixor common ivy

Of course, indoor plants can still provide a lot of benefits.

A variety of factors can affect the air quality in your living space, and can contribute to a range of short- and long-term health effects.

Indoor air quality testing can bring some peace of mind if you are concerned about indoor air pollution. From there, taking steps to prevent and reduce the pollutants of a particular problem can help you increase the air quality in your home and reduce any associated health risks.


Courtney Teluyan is a writer with published work for Healthline, Psych Central, and Insider. She previously worked on the editorial teams at Psych Central and GoodTherapy. Her areas of interest include holistic approaches to health, particularly women’s health, and topics centered around mental health.

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