Many don’t realize that air conditioning contributes more to a comfortable environment, it affects the air quality in our homes. Filters remove lint, dander and molds that may affect our health. Indoor pollutants can accumulate. These airborne gases and particles need to be ventilated outdoors and exchanged for fresh air indoors. We seal our homes in an attempt to make them more energy efficient, but as we do, we are sealing in harmful pollutants as well. Studies have proven that indoor air quality is many times worse than outdoor air.
Examples of Indoor Air Pollution
As we live, we shed as do our pets. Not only hair but dander which is dead skin. This and other products or side products exist as detritus which is the dead particulate mater that is cleaned up by dust mites and other organisms. Through the act of just being alive we create our own indoor ecosystem. Radon gas is a challenge for the home owner as it is a common product of the radioactive decay of radium in the soil. Radium in turn is a product of the decay of Uranium-234. Radon gas can accumulate indoors and raising levels to a point of being a health concern. Being a gas, it is handled by the lungs. Being radioactive it can cause lung cancer. Airborne molds, bacteria and viruses add to the accumulation of indoor health hazards. One method is to exchange the air between the interior and the exterior at a rate of 4-5 times an hour, in direct contradiction to energy efficiency goals.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
There a few things that you can do that will increase the healthy air quality of your home:
• Plants are natures filters. They produce oxygen and help filter airborne pollutants. Some favorites:
o Aloe Plant, easy to car for, juices can be used to treat cuts and minor burns, detoxing the body.
o Leaves develop brown spots, and indicator of harmful pollutants in the air.
o English Ivy, easy to care for and rated by NASA as a great air filter, filters formaldehyde, a common product used in home building products.
o Rubber Tree. Rubber trees clean the air, thrive in low light conditions, like cooler (AC in homes) and detox the air.
o Snake plant, different as it releases oxygen at night, drought and low light tolerant.
o Bamboo Palm, another NASA approved air cleaner works well with benzene and trichlorethylene removal.
o Red-edged Dracaena, removes xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
• Crack the windows, new homes don’t breathe well. You need fresh air, crack those windows when cool in the summer, mornings and during stormy weather.
• Anything on the floor can end up be kick into the air. Keep your floors clean.
• Running the A/C or furnace blower keeps the air circulating. UV light in the ducts kill bacterial and mold spores, coupled to the right mesh of filter medium it cleans up the air. FILTERS NEED TO BE CHANGED REGULARLY.
• Clogged filters can ‘bounce’ airborne particles keeping them in circulation. Clean those ducts as well.
• Not a problem here in the southwest, but remember mold thrives in damp and humid conditions. If you must invest in a dehumidifier.
• CO, carbon monoxide monitor help keep you and yours healthy.
• Dirt, detritus and dust mites – vacuum regularly. These and pollen are the primary allergens encountered within our homes.
• You may want to consider separate air purifiers
• VOC (volatile organic compounds) used in paint. Use only low or zero VOC paints. Paint will emit only half of the VOC present in the first year.
• Clear those ‘Klingons’ hanging from hang from fans, drapes and other areas.
• Bag those stuffed toys and pillows and put them in the freezer. Kills a lot of the microscopic fauna infesting them.