Tips to Improve the Air Quality in Your Home
You might be surprised to learn that recent scientific evidence suggests air inside your home can be even more polluted than outdoor air. With millions of people suffering from asthma and allergies, it’s a good idea to question whether the air in your home might be negatively affecting your family’s health. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to reduce the build-up of indoor air pollutants, thus improving the overall air quality and helping to protect your family. Following are three basic strategies.
Source control is considered to be the most effective way of reducing indoor pollutants. Examples of source control include: addressing wet carpet, insulation, and drywall immediately to avoid mold and bacteria growth; avoiding the use of, or at least ensuring proper ventilation when using, more noxious cleaning products, as high pollutant concentrations can remain in the air long after the task has been completed; or even minimizing dry cleaning, as the solvents used dissipate in the home. To control pollutants potentially caused by your furnace and other fuel-burning appliances, combustion testing is recommended. This will help to determine how completely fuel is being used and, if necessary, modifications can be made to reduce the leakage of gasses into your home.
A simple approach to improving indoor air quality is to make sure that your home is properly ventilated. Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans, and running exhaust fans located in the kitchen and bathrooms all help to keep air circulating and fresh. It is particularly important to have proper ventilation when you are doing any activity that is known to create a large amount of pollutants or moisture, such as cooking, showering, cleaning, or painting.
Use Air Cleaners
There are several types of air cleaning devices available, some of which are used as a part of your HVAC system and others that are portable and independent units. For the removal of particles in the air, filters installed in your HVAC system with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) value of 8 to 15 are recommended. Mechanical air filters (such as HEPA filters) combined with UV light are a particularly effective option. This type of system traps larger micro-organisms and then exposes them to sterilizing UV light. To address gas pollutants around the home, consider using gas-phase air filters that use a sorbent to capture the pollutants. Different sorbents, such as activated carbon, are used to treat specific types of gases, so it’s important to understand which, if any, are present in your home in order to select an appropriate filter.
In addition to the strategies listed above, regular maintenance of your HVAC system is highly recommended to keep the air inside your home as clean and healthy as possible. At least twice per year, you should have your HVAC system inspected and cleaned by a professional. Additionally, a Home Energy Audit, which tests the safety of your appliances and verifies the amount of fresh air that circulates, can identify areas of improvement to help increase indoor air quality. While it may be impossible to eliminate all indoor air pollutants, implementing the suggestions above may help to minimize airborne toxins and protect your family’s health.