In general, the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or reduce their emissions. Some sources, such as those containing asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, such as gas stoves, can be adjusted to reduce the amount of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-effective approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation, since increasing ventilation can increase energy costs. The specific sources of indoor air pollution in your home are listed later in this section.
Filtering indoor air using a whole-house central system is the most efficient way to improve indoor air quality. If a central system is not an option, you may consider an air purifier for a room. However, remember that a single room purifier is just that; it purifies the air in a single room. Because air moves freely around your home, air from an unfiltered room can easily reach a filtered room, defeating the purpose of your mission. With any system you choose, make sure it has a HEPA filter and be careful with systems that generate ozone but claim to filter the air.
Certain laws set the amount of fresh air that must be drawn in to mix with the indoor air in your home. To do this, the outdoor ventilation grilles have to be open. Inspect your system regularly to ensure that it is working properly and that the vents are open. Another simple way to improve indoor air quality is to bring more fresh air to your building. It's important to note that while increasing ventilation will help eliminate polluted air, it will also lead to higher energy consumption.
For this reason, indoor air quality monitoring is a must. Some buildings such as gyms, production facilities, etc. will require additional ventilation, while others will not. The only way to know is to have the data to support your decisions. Air pollutants can range from pollutants brought from outside by your pets to dangerous gas leaks.
Carbon monoxide is a common air pollutant that results from natural gas escaping into your home without burning. Older houses may contain asbestos and lead particles, which can damage the lungs when released into the air. In bathrooms and kitchens, mold and mildew can become a nuisance where humidity levels tend to be higher than in the rest of the house. Air conditioning systems always work to give your home the perfect temperature all year round. But as they go through all that air, they filter out some of those common air pollutants.
Over time, your air filters fill up and stop doing their job. Not only does this cause problems for indoor air quality, but it also wears out the air conditioning system, which can lead to costly repairs in the future. Therefore, make sure to change air conditioning filters regularly or get an air conditioning service plan that typically includes a filter change, especially if you are prone to allergies or if you live in a metropolitan area with high levels of pollution. Now that you've learned some simple steps you can take yourself to reduce indoor air pollution, consider scheduling an appointment with a Petro Home Services professional. The first step is to remove anything from your home that is causing indoor air quality to degrade, says Peter Mann, founder and CEO of Oransi, an air purification company based in North Carolina.
Buying some indoor plants can do wonders for improving your home's indoor air quality, while also improving your home decor. Contaminants from fireplaces and wood stoves without dedicated outside air supply can be sent from the chimney to the living space, especially in heated homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not introducing enough outside air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not transporting indoor air pollutants out of the home. Understanding and controlling some of the common pollutants found in homes, schools and offices can help improve indoor air and reduce your family's risk of indoor air quality (CAI) related health problems. Nearly all indoor air pollution, depending on intensity, can be controlled with proper ventilation, filtration and, in some cases, additional air treatment devices to eliminate bacteria, viruses and other unwanted materials, says Mock.
12 Ideas for Improving Indoor Air QualityThe effectiveness of an air cleaner depends on how well it picks up indoor air pollutants (expressed as a percentage of efficiency) and the amount of air it draws through the cleaning or filtering element (expressed in cubic feet per minute). However, it can cause exposure to higher levels of indoor air pollutants if you don't pay close attention to potential sources of pollution and the rate of air change.
While the presence of such sources doesn't necessarily mean you have an indoor air quality problem, knowing the type and number of potential sources is an important step in evaluating the air quality in your home. Here are 12 ideas for improving indoor air quality, whether you or someone in your home has allergies or outdoor environmental conditions are causing poor indoor air quality:
- Open windows when weather permits
- Install exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens
- Clean carpets regularly
- Vacuum often using HEPA filters
- Avoid using harsh chemicals for cleaning
- Keep humidity levels low
- Change HVAC filters regularly
- Install carbon monoxide detectors
- Check for asbestos or lead particles
- Use natural cleaning products
- Add houseplants for natural filtration
- Schedule regular HVAC maintenance checks