Air quality refers to how clean or polluted the air is. Good quality air is beneficial for our health as it is clean and free of pollutants. When we hear the term "poor air quality" many of us think of factories putting harmful chemicals and polluting the outdoor air. However, poor indoor air quality is also a very real health risk that we should pay attention to. After all, most of us spend the majority of our time indoors.
Why is indoor air quality important?
Indoor air pollutants can have a negative effect on human health and wellbeing. Some pollutants may affect us in the short term, causing symptoms like coughing, sneezing, irritation in the eyes, fatigue, and nausea. If someone has an underlying condition such as asthma, symptoms can be aggravated by pollutants in the air.
In severe cases, indoor air pollution can lead to long-term health conditions like lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases. Paying attention to the quality of the air inside our homes and workplaces is an important part of keeping us healthy both now and into the future.
What causes indoor air pollution?
There are many different air pollutants that can affect our health in negative ways. Some of the common indoor pollutants are:
Carbon monoxide (CO)
Carbon monoxide is a gas that is colourless and odourless, so it is difficult to detect without a carbon monoxide detector. It can be generated by unflued gas heaters, burning wood, and cigarette smoke. Small levels can cause flu like symptoms, dizziness, and headaches. Excess levels can be fatal.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
High concentrations of nitrogen dioxide can cause airway inflammation and worsen the symptoms of asthma. Its sources include unflued gas heaters, cigarette smoke, gas cookers, and emissions from traffic that make its way inside.
Mould is a type of fungi that grows where there is a lot of moisture such as in the bathroom, laundry, or kitchen. Some mould spores can be carried through the air and may cause respiratory problems if inhaled.
Dust and pet dander
Particle pollution is when tiny particles of solid or liquid pollutants are in the air. These can include things like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen. Their health effects can range from mild irritations to serious long-term health problems and diseases.
How to assess air quality
If you want to monitor the air quality inside your home, there are a wide range of air quality monitors on the market. Look for devices that will show you humidity levels, levels of particulate matter, and the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). You can also install a carbon monoxide detector throughout your home.
You can also look for clues around your home without a monitor. For example, do you feel unwell at home? Do you have health problems every year at the same time of year? Do your symptoms change after cleaning the home? Can you see evidence of mould build up?
Now that you know why indoor air quality is important, try using the following methods to improve air quality in your home.
Ways to improve air quality in indoor environments
The air inside your home should be continually replaced with fresh air to help filter out harmful pollutants. Open the windows to get fresh air flowing through your home, turn on ventilation fans and use your air conditioner to improve ventilation inside.
Choose natural cleaners
Cleaning products and air fresheners that are made from harsh chemicals can increase the amount of VOCs in your home. Avoid these types of products and go for natural, organic cleaners instead.
Prevent mold build-up
Mould can build up wherever there is excess moisture or high humidity. When in the bathroom, make sure you turn on the ventilation fan. Wash your towels regularly and clean your shower weekly.
Get into the habit of cleaning your home regularly. Particularly make sure you vacuum up any dust and pet dander. Wipe down dusty surfaces with a microfibre cloth rather than using a feather duster which can just push the particles around the room.
Use a dehumidifier
If you have trouble keeping your home at appropriate humidity levels, try using a dehumidifier which helps maintain healthy humidity levels to control problems like mould and mildew.
Decorate with house plants
House plants don't just look good, they can also help improve the air quality inside your home. As well as producing oxygen, some plants are particularly good at filtering out pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
Use your air conditioner
Air conditioners that are in good working condition can improve the air quality at home and in the workplace because they filter out harmful particles and pollutants, replacing them with clean, dry air. Check out the tips below for using your air conditioner to improve indoor air quality.
Improving air quality at home with an air conditioner
Air conditioners can help reduce allergy symptoms and improve air quality by reducing particle pollutants and humidity levels. The filter inside an air conditioner can help filter out nasty pollutants, but if you haven't cleaned your filter in a while you might find the opposite is true. Here are some good tips for making sure your air conditioner improves air quality.
Change the filter regularly
A dirty filter can end up putting dust particles, mold spores, and other pollutants back into your home. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines and change or replace your filters regularly.
Clean the vents
For ducted air conditioning, it's best to regularly clean the vents in your ceiling as dust and grime can build up and affect the air quality. A simple vacuum and wipe with a microfibre cloth usually do the trick.
If you need assistance with buying or servicing an air conditioner in Mandurah, get in touch with the team at iBreeze. We can help make sure you get the right system to keep you comfortable and optimize air quality all year round. Call us today on (08) 9534 9491