Air quality isn’t something that most people actively think about, and it’s not always obvious that the air you’re breathing is poor quality.
Because we may not immediately notice poor air quality in our homes or offices, we could all be breathing in potentially hazardous air all the time!
What’s in your air?
According to some estimates, the average adult breathes in around 8 liters of air per minute! And if your air quality is poor, your respiratory system is working overtime to filter pollutants.
Even if you think your home is exceptionally clean, there is still a tremendous amount other things floating in your air. The Environmental Protection Agency identifies several factors that affect indoor air quality, including secondhand smoke, dust mites, molds, cockroaches and pets. For people who suffer from allergies, these types of things in your air can seriously affect your quality of life and do a number on your health!
Secondhand smoke, dust mites and pet dander
We’ve known for a long time that secondhand smoke is hazardous to your health, but it’s especially harmful for kids. Because children breath much faster than adults, when the air is full of smoke, they are breathing in much more secondhand smoke that adults. Allergens affect children faster than adults, so if your child has asthma, it may be a single that you need to evaluate your home’s indoor air quality.
Tiny arachnids called dust mites are another problem for people around the world. You can’t see them with the naked eye, but dust mites are everywhere. To give you an idea of just how many dust mites are in your home right now, SafeRest explains that just one ounce of dust can harbor as many as 14,000 dust mites.
Unlike some other mites, dust mites aren’t parasitical; instead, they live off the dead skin flakes that you and your family shed every day. Dust mites’ fecal material and body parts are responsible for causing respiratory problems in humans.
Put simply, it sounds gross, but dust mites are just a part of life. While we can’t totally get rid of them, we can adjust our cleaning habits to minimize dust mites’ effect on us.
Dust mites don’t only live on human skin, though. They also feed on your pet’s dander, the tiny pieces of skin that your dog, cat or other type of pet shed every day. If dust mites weren’t bad enough for people with allergies, the pet dander itself can also be a nuisance, causing sneezing, running noses and various other allergy symptoms.
In addition to the smoke, dust and pet dander, carbon dioxide, the odorless and colorless gas that we breath out as part of our aerobic respiration process, can also be a cause for concern. According to a report in Environmental Perspectives, when workers in a double-blind study worked in an office with higher levels of CO2, what the study called a “conventional day,” they scored about half as well on a cognitive functions test than they did when the air quality was better, what the study called a “green day.”
For years, researchers had no idea that increased levels of carbon dioxide in buildings had an effect on people, and the long-term side effects of being exposed to such high levels of carbon dioxide on a regular basis remains unknown.
How to increase the air quality in your home or business
Even though it seems like the odds are stacked up against allergy sufferers, there are things you can do to reduce your symptoms. Some of these tips are easy things that you could do today to improve the air quality in your home or business!
Opening the windows
It sounds too easy, but just opening your windows can make a major difference in the air quality of your home. The next time your home feels a little stuffy, just try opening a window or two! It may sound surprising, but the air inside your home may actually be more polluted than the air outside! Check out the air quality index forecast for your region and open up your windows! Opening a window brings fresh air in and pushes polluted air out.
To get the most out of opening your windows, try creating cross ventilation in your home. If you open a window on both sides of your house or apartment, the fresh air outside will naturally rush in and push out the air inside your home. If you have a second floor, cross ventilation works even better. Open a window on one side of your home upstairs and another window downstairs on the opposite side; the warm air will rise upstairs and rush out of your home, and the cool air will enter from the bottom floor. Cross ventilation is also a great way to cool your home in spring and fall, saving you money on your electric bill.
Unfortunately, opening the windows also lets in all the dust and allergens from outside, so if you or someone in your family is sensitive to certain allergens, don’t keep the window open for too long.
Buy a plant or tree
You probably remember from high school that outdoors plants and trees naturally absorb pollutants that are harmful to us and release the oxygen we need to breathe. Well, you can recreate the same process indoors as well.
Though it’s more difficult to keep some plants indoors, especially if your home or business doesn’t get much direct sunlight, buying a small plant to keep around will help reduce carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and other types of indoor pollutants.
Install an air filtration system
Air filtration systems are extremely popular and are a great way to remove things like dust and other tiny particles from the air inside your home or office. Most HVAC units have 1″ filters that simply aren’t very effective for removing the smallest particles from the air, and if you have leaky ducts, all sorts of particles could be slipping into your home.
Trane makes the top-of-the-line air filtration system, the Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner. Incredibly, the Trane reports that its unit removes 99.98% of the particles in your home, and it captures particles as small as .1 micron. Check out the video below that shows an example of what the Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner is capable of.
If you’re interested in having a Trane CleanEffects Air Cleaner installed, give HEP a call today! We are a licensed Trane dealer.
Don’t let your family suffer from poor air quality. There are some simple ways to reduce the amount of allergens and pollutants in your home or office. Call HEP today!