How to Improve Indoor Air Quality of Your Home?
More often than not, outdoor air quality is emphasized and indoor air quality is presumed to be of better quality. But contrary to the common belief, indoor air quality could be worse than that of outdoors. Several studies have proved that poor indoor air quality can inflict airborne diseases and affect mental well-being. Therefore, care should be taken to improve indoor air quality. To aid people in achieving good indoor air quality, the green building rating agencies like UGBC in U.S. and IGBC in India have standard ranking houses/buildings based on their indoor air quality and have provided substantial credits for awarding green rating.
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality, also known as “indoor environmental quality” is the quality of air inside and around the buildings. It also includes temperature, humidity, lack of outside air or poor ventilation, mold from water damage, and exposure to certain chemicals. ‘Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’ (United States Department of Labor), describes how inside air quality can affect a person’s health, comfort, and ability to work.
What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?
There are various reasons for poor indoor air quality. Let’s find out the reasons for poor indoor air quality.
01. Change in Style of Construction
There are significant changes in the construction pattern of the buildings of current era and the vintage constructions. Nowadays, the buildings are compact and have fewer windows. Therefore, air circulation is limited.
02. Change in Lifestyle
Adoption of the HVAC system in our lifestyle leads to closed doors and windows, and there are limited options for entry of fresh air and sunlight. The absence of fresh air and sunshine leads to air pollution inside the buildings. Moreover, the sunrays which are considered as one of the greatest germicides, are obstructed by the curtains.
Also Read: Importance of Fresh Air in Your Home & Life!
03. Use of Tobacco
Tobacco smoke is a significant cause of indoor air pollution and leads to deadly and severe diseases such as pneumonia, lung cancer, bronchitis, irritation in the respiratory tract, heart disease, etc. Not only the active smokers are inflicted, but even passive smokers are also affected inspite of having no-fault.
Tobacco Smoke Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
04. Pet Dander’s, Pet Hairs, and Dust Mites
The contaminants of pet dander’s, hairs and dust mites add to the air pollution, and the dwellers might face issues of asthma symptoms, throat irritation, flu, skin diseases and one or other forms of allergy.
05. Chemicals used in Paints, Sprays, and Cleaning Agents & Deodorants
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are chemicals used in paints, sprays, cleaning agents, deodorants and air fresheners. They have harmful effects on the human body and can lead to various types of cancer, renal diseases, or affect the proper functioning of brain and coordination. These chemicals, even after application, continue to emit VOC, which are injuries to health.
06. Use of Lead
Paints containing lead can lead to life-threatening diseases due to emission of poisonous gases.
07. Use of Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is one of the common causes of indoor air pollution because it is widely used in furniture and fixtures. Plywood and all other artificial woods are the sources of poor indoor air quality to a smaller or a larger extent. It can lead to cancer, irritation of the eyes, throat, nose and it is also a reason for allergic reactions.
08. Pollen Level
Allergic symptoms are aggravated in individuals having allergy to pollen levels in certain climatic and weather conditions.
Heavy carpets attract specks of dust and bacteria, so the use of heavy carpets should be avoided.
Heavy furnishings look attractive but are a house of mites and dust, and it adds to indoor pollution.
11. Mold & Mildew
The wet spaces of the house and dark, dingy corners where sunlight does not reach are more prone to mold & mildew.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality?
“You spend the majority of your life indoors, so itis desirable to pay attention to the quality of air in your home’” notes ‘Jay Portnoy’, MD, chief of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.
Bringing significant changes in lifestyle can help you to improve indoor air quality to a greater extent. Following are few of the simple modifications you can easily make to beat indoor air pollution.
01. Doors & Windows
Air circulation is a must for homes and commercial accommodations. Doors and windows should be opened periodically to let the fresh air and sunlight in. The sunrays deter indoor air pollution, and kills germs and bacteria. While constructing buildings, care should be taken to have sufficient doors and windows and the provision of cross ventilation. As a thumb rule, all room should have a minimum of 10% and preferably 20% of carpet area as areas of windows. Good architects design houses so that the stipulated “air changes” per hour in different types of rooms are achieved.
02. Periodic Servicing of Electrical Units
Air-conditioners, heating elements and humidifiers along with other electrical equipment should be serviced periodically to keep the pollutants away. The filters should be changed as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
03. Avoid Smoke Emissions
It is advisable to refrain from smoking tobacco and limiting usage of gas stoves to avoid smoke emissions. If you cannot stop smoking, don’t smoke indoors. Go out of the house or in a smoking zone.
If you have pets at home, vacuum clean the area once a day to suck all the hairs and danders of pets and keep yourself safe from infections.
Avoid using heavy carpets and instead use light carpets which can be cleaned at home. A better option is not to use mats because it is a storage box of clouds of dust, but due to its attractive designs, people opt carpets to beautify their home and commercial establishments. It is essential to vacuum clean once a day to keep carpets free from dust, mites, bacteria, and molds. Here, we give you some easy tips for cleaning your rugs and carpet. Check Rugs & Carpet Cleaning Tips.
Carpets are advisable in very cold countries where it is difficult to lay foot on the floor in winter. But they are useless in hot and humid countries like India where you have an additional problem of dust.
06. Bathroom & Kitchen
These two spaces are most used in the home, and these are the wet spaces giving a chance to molds and mildew to grow. Keep kitchen and bathroom clean and damp free by cleaning after each use and periodic cleaning of walls, accessories, and tiles. The provision of sunlight in these areas keeps the area disinfected and dry.
‘National Building Code of India (NBC)’ suggests air changes per hour for different rooms depending upon their use. Such as 6-10 air changes per hour are recommended for bathrooms and 8-12 air changes per hour are recommended for kitchens. If this cannot be achieved naturally install an exhausted fan.
Also Read: 20 Smart Ways to Get Rid of Kitchen Odours!
07. Use of Eco-Friendly Paints & Cleaning Agents
Switch to eco-friendly paints and cleaning agents for your homes. Eco-friendly VOC free colours, which are devoid of lead or other obnoxious substances are in vogue. The same goes for cleaning agents. Adopt organic ones in daily life to stay away from indoor pollution.
08. Avoid Deodorants & Room Fresheners
Injurious chemicals are used in deodorants, room sanitizers and air fresheners. Avoid using them in your daily life. Switch to organic and natural deodorants such as lemon and vinegar to ward off body odour. Neem, baking soda and lemon can be good substitutes for sanitizers and fresheners.
09. Use a Vacuum Cleaner with Replaceable Dust Bag
Get a vacuum cleaner that has a facility of the replaceable dust bag. It does have a recurring cost, but it is safe for the household. A washable dust bag does bring some dust inside your house even after thoroughly cleaning by a vacuum cleaner. It can help you to get rid of dirt and dust from your carpets, furnishings and floors etc. Apart from these, click to know how get the most Out of Your Vacuum Cleaner!
10. Use of Exhaust Fans & Chimneys
Nowadays, an extractor/exhaust fan is one of the important tools used in the houses as it helps to get rid of the problem of humidity, gases or smoke. Know the importance of Kitchen Exhaust Fan and Toilet – Bathroom Exhaust Fan.
11. Furnishings & Curtain
Make a habit of changing home furnishings and curtains at regular intervals. Buy lighter ones which do not accumulate dust much and get it cleaned monthly or bi-monthly. Using unwashed ones can affect you with breathing problems and allergic reactions.
12. Natural Cleaning Agents
Natural cleaning agents are economical and healthy to use for home and surroundings. These days a lot of safe herbal alternatives are available in the market.
Also Read: How to Make Best Homemade Window Cleaner?
13. Accessible to Clean Decorative Accessories
Decorative accessories make our home beautiful and attractive. While buying, keep in mind to buy those which are easy to clean and are not intricate. The objects with a lot of grooves attract more dust.
14. Daily Dusting
Clean your home and surroundings regularly so that cobwebs and dust don’t accumulate and keep your home sparkling clean and safe for the dwellers.
Daily cleaning or dusting of the house is always a priority among all house hold tasks and it is the never-ending process. Thus, the knowledge of house cleaning schedule is crucial for your busy schedule.
15. Use of Damp Microfiber
For cleaning don’t use feather cleaners as it leaves the dust after cleaning; insist on damp microfiber for cleaning because it absorbs dust and leaves the area clean. So, pay attention to the kind of cleaning tools used in the household.
16. Grow Air-Purifier Plants
According to ‘NASA- National Aeronautics and Space Administration’ (Report published on Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement), ‘low-light-requiring houseplants, along with activated carbon plant filters, have demonstrated the potential for improving indoor air quality by removing trace organic pollutants from the air in energy-efficient buildings.’ Thus, have air-purifying plants such as Tulsi, Arica Palm, Rubber plant etc. which are easy to maintain indoors and in the balconies.
Air-Purifier Plants for Home
17. Clean & Air-Dry Mattresses
Mattresses are often ignored, but it carries more dust mites than you can imagine. It can also invite fungus and bed bugs. Make a habit of cleaning them with baking soda and vacuum cleaner to dust out the bags of dust. Exposure to sun quarterly or half-yearly is also a good method of getting rid of germs from the mattresses.
18. Discard Old Pillows & Comforters
Pillows and comforters are a hub of germs and bacteria. Wash your pillows and comforters regularly if you are using washable pillows and comforters. If they are not washable, then replace them every two years.
19. Fix Leaks
Don’t ignore leakage of pipes and drainage of any kind. It invites molds and fungus to develop leading to the hampered air quality of your home.
20. Clean Walls
Walls should be cleaned periodically because the dust accumulates on the walls. Depending on the type of the paint used for walls, either clean by damp dust absorbent cloth or with water and shampoo.
21. Remove Shoes
Follow the practice of removing shoes before entering the house to save your home from dirt and grime.
On a final note, worsening air quality due to emersion of hazardous gases from vehicles and industries worries all of us. But we may remain absolutely unaware about the killer within the house if we remain ignorant. We spend almost 50% of our time at home and if we live assuming that “All is well” inside the house and its air quality, a day may dawn when we suffer from one or other ailments. So, know the enemies within the house and act on the tips mentioned above to maintain a good indoor air quality of your house. If the above practices are followed religiously, your home will be free from indoor pollution to a great extent and all the members will lead a healthy life.
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