Most people are aware of environmental pollution due to all the vehicles and industrial plants. However, many are surprised to learn that the air inside your home can be just as polluted, if not more. Since we spend most of our days indoors (even more so during quarantine and lockdown), it’s something to strongly consider.
Polluted indoor air and a raging coronavirus pandemic is not exactly a good combination. If there was ever a time to invest in purifying and cleaning the air in your home, now is that time. The last thing you want is a congested respiratory tract while being susceptible to catching a deadly virus. There are both natural, simple methods to purify air as well as high end gadgets to do the work.
Let’s over some common ways you can reduce contaminants inside your home that can affect the health of you and your loved ones.
1. Beware of Common Pollutants
There are four huge pollutants that can sneak inside into your home—carbon monoxide, second hand smoke, VOCs and radon gas—all of which can be hard to detect but damaging to our bodies.
The first step is to prohibit smoking inside the house.
For carbon monoxide (a deadly gas often coming from car exhausts), you can install a carbon monoxide detector.You should also avoid sitting your car on idle inside a garage.
Other gas or fuel burning devices can also give off carbon monoxide. So, ensure that gas burning stoves direct the exhaust gas directly outside. Avoid using grills inside in enclosed spaces. Ensure you don’t have fuel burning lawn mowers running often in enclosed spaces when they’re not in use.
With radon gas, it’s a bit tricky because there’s no smell or sight of it. So, the only way to get rid of it is to test for it first.
VOCs stand for Volatile Organic Compounds and are harmful chemicals emitted by certain types of paint. VOCs include harmful compounds like formaldehyde. To reduce them, opt for low-VOC paints and ensure that your place is well ventilated during the painting process. Don’t keep paint cans inside your home.
Cleaning products can also contain VOCs, so research the ingredients before buying them. Ensure the place is well ventilated when you clean using these chemicals. You can opt for either low or no-VOC products or fragrance-free products.
2. Fix Mold and Mildew Problems
Mold is more harmful than it looks. It is a fungus that reproduces by spreading small particles called spores. These spores can linger in the air and you may breathe them in. So, ensure that you fix any leaks or clean out mold before the rainy season. It is better if you use a professional cleaning service for this because cleaning mold itself can spread spores even further.
You can keep a dehumidifier in parts of the house that are most susceptible to mold growth, such as basements. Keep bathrooms and kitchens well ventilated to minimize mold. Scrub off mold if you see them at the earliest possible stage.
3. Don’t Let the Dust Mites Bite
Humid air doesn’t just encourage dampness, but it also encourages dust mites which can cause allergies. These are tiny microscopic bugs that are found in house dust. They are found pretty much everywhere, from your upholstery, bedding and carpeting.
They do very well in moist air, so lowering your humidity can help reduce them. If you are allergic to dust mites, don’t keep a humidifier in your room. Instead, turn on an AC to bring down the humidity to around 30-35%.
Additionally, you should also dust your house often, cleaning out upholstery, bedding and carpets regularly. Using a damp-resistant mattress and pillow covers can protect your bedding.
If you are super allergic to dust mites, it is best to do a little makeover for your home. Swap out carpeted floors for smooth, hard surfaces. Replace bulky upholstery with smoother and lighter fabrics. Upholstery and carpeting are the perfect breeding ground for dust mites.
4. Indoor Plants
Indoor plants are a bit of a contentious issue.
On one hand, they purify the air by releasing oxygen. They also absorb toxins from the air. On the other hand, they can introduce dirt, dust and other small allergens. They can also introduce moisture to the air and encourage mold growth. So, if you are someone who is very sensitive to allergens, it is best to keep the plants outdoors.
If you just want fresher air with more oxygen, keeping indoor plants will help. There are plenty of low maintenance, space-saving plants you can try. Plants like spider plants take up little space, don’t need much care and they look great on hanging baskets.
Some of these plants can actually absorb some harmful chemicals like formaldehyde from paints and cleaning solutions. However, before you purchase house plants, do some research on if they are toxic to cats, dogs or children. For example, while chrysanthemums look great, they are quite toxic to cats and dogs.
5. Clean Up After Your Pets
Pets are a huge source of allergens and pathogens. They can bring in extra dirt, dust and pathogens from outside. Hence, make sure that you clean up after them. Clean upholstery on furniture and carpets to get rid of fur. It is also best to keep them away from your bedroom if you are sensitive to allergens.
6. Be Cautious With Pest Control
Some insecticides are full of toxic chemicals and their use should be minimized. So ideally, you should try to physically remove or repel insects first. This includes frequently cleaning your home (especially the kitchen and bathroom), covering up holes and gaps in walls and storing food in airtight containers.
Pest control should only be a last resort. If you do decide on pest control, it is better to call up a professional pest controller as they may have insecticides that are safer to use.
7. Invest in an Air Purifier
If you’ve done all you can around your house, or you can’t get rid of things like carpets and upholstery, you may consider investing in an air purifier. Keep them in frequently visited parts of the house to trap allergens. While you can’t eliminate them completely using air purifiers, you can certainly minimize them.
Allergens and toxins are all around your home, and we often underestimate how polluted the air indoors can be. You should first try simple, manual methods of removing allergens before trying out high end devices like air purifiers to save money.