Improving Your Indoor Air Quality for Better Health
Indoor air quality is an important contributor to people’s health that often goes unnoticed. We work, play, and sleep inside, yet many do not realize that their indoor air contains dangerous pollutants and allergens. In recent years, indoor air pollution has been linked to serious health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Fortunately, there are easy, cost-effective ways to reduce indoor pollutants and promote a healthy breathing environment.
Indoor Air Pollution
Many people think that the outdoors is especially polluted; they may be surprised to learn that the indoors is two to five-times more polluted, according to the EPA. Pollutants include things like gases, toxic chemicals, mold, pet dander, dust mites, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), among many others. People breathe 9 out of every 10 breaths indoors, inhaling around two tablespoons of particles every day. Given that, indoor air pollution is a significant concern.
The problem with indoor air pollution is that sources are both common and varied. Allergy sufferers can react strongly to pets, dust, dust mites, mold, pollen, or many other things. Asthmatics may be triggered by many different things, though tobacco smoke is particularly harmful for them. Other respiratory issues may be caused by chemicals in cleaning products. VOCs are of particular concern; these are commonly found in paints, carpets, and disinfectants. They can put off very small amounts of fumes for long periods of time, which may cause symptoms like throat irritation, headaches, or nausea. Formaldehyde – another chemical that emits gas for long periods of time – is found in carpets and furniture adhesive. There are all types of sources, many of them invisible or odorless.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
The EPA has three suggestions to improve indoor air quality: control the source of the pollution, improve ventilation, and buy a HEPA air purifier. Some sources of pollutants can be controlled; people can purchase natural cleaners rather than chemical-laden ones. They can choose VOC-free paint to limit their exposure to paint fumes. They can even purchase furniture that’s been made without formaldehyde. That said, other airborne pollutants like pollen, dust, or auto exhaust cannot be easily controlled. Improving ventilation will help reduce pollutants like nitrous dioxide and carbon monoxide from cooking, but opening a window may well increase other pollutants like exhaust and pollen. Of the three EPA suggestions, buying an air purifier is the simplest.
Air Purifiers and Health
Air purifiers filter out many of the airborne pollutants that can cause health problems. Air purifiers remove airborne triggers and can help bring relief to asthma and allergy sufferers. They can help provide allergy relief, too; air purifiers filter out pollen and pet dander, among other allergens. Some air purifiers can remove VOCs and tobacco smoke, both of which are carcinogenic. Some even help prevent diseases by filtering viruses and bacteria. Indeed, many hospitals use HEPA filters to help stop the spread of viruses like the swine flu.
HEPA Air Purifiers
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are the most effective at removing airborne irritants; they remove 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns and above. This means that to be a HEPA-certified filter, only 3 out of every 10,000 particles may escape back into the air. HEPA filters are recommended by the government because they have the most rigorous standards for filtration. Allergy sufferers may find them especially helpful.
Activated Carbon Filters
Carbon, when treated with oxygen, is said to be “activated;” millions of pores open up on the carbon molecule, creating a vast surface area. Odors, gases, and toxic chemicals get caught in these pores and bond to the surface. The more activated carbon in the filter, the more gases and odors can be trapped. Some carbon is treated with an additional ingredient, usually a potassium. This creates chemisorbents, which allow carbon to more easily filter chemically-reactive gasses and VOCs. Many HEPA air purifiers actually contain both HEPA filters and activated carbon filters, so consumers can get the best of both and remove the widest possible array of airborne pollutants.
Did you know the average person takes nine of ten breaths indoors? This is what makes indoor air quality so important when it comes to staying healthy. The EPA estimates that indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air. However, taking steps to improve your air quality will help you, your family and your pets. This is especially important if you have young children, elderly or folks with chronic health problems living in your home. Do not leave the quality of your indoor air to chance. Invest in a HEPA air purifier and sleep well knowing your family is breathing indoor air that’s fresh and clean.
- Administration Staff