If you ever walked into a room and began to sneeze, then felt your energy diminish or suffered other allergy-related symptoms, there is a good chance that a lack of fresh air may be the problem. As many studies have found, poor indoor air quality can affect your physical health, the way you feel and your productivity.
We spend so much time indoors that addressing air quality issues should be a priority for you. All it takes is a few minor adjustments to how you clean, what kind of plants you keep inside, and how well you maintain air flow and humidity.
In our experience, when people following any one, or all of following seven steps, they feel better and experience fewer allergy-related symptoms.
1. Add More Indoor Plants
The NASA Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement study tested the ability of several plants to naturally reduce trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde in the air. The study was conducted in response to the growing problem known as “sick building syndrome,” which is a result of new and renovated buildings being so well sealed to improve energy efficiency that fresher outdoor air can’t get inside.
Computers, furniture and cleaning products are often made or coated with chemicals that “out-gas” over time. In homes that don’t allow much outdoor air inside, these potentially harmful contaminants are continually recirculated and inhaled.
According to the study, adding some of the following plants around the home or office might help capture some these toxins.
- Snake plant (mother-in-law’s tongue)
- English Ivy
- Bamboo palm
- Peace lily
- Pot mum
- Chinese evergreen
- Gerbera daisy
- Janet Craig
- Mass cane / Corn cane
Not only do plants cut down on airborne toxins, but the extra green can help liven up the home.
2. Periodically Open Windows
Surprisingly, indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. As mentioned above, much of this has to do with the poor exchange of outdoor and indoor air inside of buildings.
To counter this problem, open the windows a few times each month. This will allow fresher outdoor air to replace indoor air. Before opening the windows set the thermostat to the “fan” setting to more quickly circulate fresh air throughout the home. During hot summers or cold winters, this might make things uncomfortable until you close windows and turn on the AC or furnace.
Opening the windows will allow pollen, dust or other particles to come inside, so we suggest completing this step before moving to the next step.
3. Follow The “Monthly Tasks” Guide
In a previous post, we outline 11 Monthly Tasks For A Clean Home. These steps cover most of the common problems homeowners face when trying to keep a happy and healthy home.
By targeting specific areas of the home, such as fixtures, carpets, bedding and areas where pets sleep, you better control the source of airborne contaminants, toxins and other particles that cause problems.
4. Use Natural Cleaners
If you are like us, when you walk into a room after it has been cleaned with synthetic cleaners, you immediately begin to feel dizzy, your sinuses burn, and it becomes hard to breathe.
When you use synthetic cleaners, the liquids and propellants inside these products evaporate into the air almost immediately. Once in the air, everyone in the home will be exposed to potentially harmful ingredients. As we previously wrote, natural cleaners can be just as effective against dirt, grime and bacteria.
Switching to natural products reduces the chance that you will be exposed to toxic compounds. Many of these products also use real plant oils and extracts that fill the air with pine, lemon, and citric scents.
5. Run a HEPA Purifier
High-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) air filters are 99.97% effective in the removal of particles that are 0.3 microns in size. For comparison, the average bacteria is around 0.5 to 1 micron in size.
Running a HEPA purifier in the bedroom at night, then moving it into the kitchen or living room during the day will help to control smaller particles and other airborne contaminants where people are active during the day.
6. Control Humidity
Bacteria loves warm, damp areas of the home. Unfortunately, too little humidity can dry out skin, hair and sensitive mucus membranes. To keep the home comfortable, you need to run a humidifier in the active areas of the home, such as the living room or bedroom; and run a dehumidifier in areas that are susceptible to mold growth.
A humidity meter will tell you what percentage of moisture is in the air. A range of 30-50% might be most comfortable for active areas. For other parts of the home, such as the basement, attic, or any place where utility equipment or water lines are found, humidity levels below 20% can help prevent unwanted bacterial growth, keep insects away and help protect boxes or other items.
7. Change Air Filters
As air filter experts, we can’t stress enough how important air filters are to improving indoor air quality. They are your best defense against airborne particles that can diminish the health of your respiratory system.
Realize the Benefits of Fresh Indoor Air
We feel that everyone deserves fresh air. The great news is you too can enjoy better quality air by following the above steps. With just a few changes, you will hopefully be able to breathe better, feel more productive, and help to protect your respiratory system from toxins and other potentially harmful contaminants.