How to improve indoor air quality

How to improve indoor air quality

Did you know that indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor air quality? This can even be true in large cities. 

Clean air can reduce allergies and improve health which is just as important in the workplace as in your home. 

There are 3 main indoor pollutants: 

  • Combustion pollutants: When we run space heaters, wood stoves, gas stoves, water heaters, dryers and fireplaces we produce gases or particles. Types and amounts of pollutants produced will vary depending on how well the appliance was installed, maintained, and vented, as well as what kind of fuel it uses. A few common combustion pollutants include carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, both of which are colourless, odourless gases. 
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (“VOCs”): a variety of organic chemicals that are released as gases from certain solids or liquids. They’re widely found in household products, including paints and varnishes, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, building materials and furnishings (such as composite wood products), pesticides, craft materials like glues, adhesives, and permanent markers, air fresheners and other synthetic fragrances, dry-cleaned clothing and textiles, carpets, sealing caulks and solvents, vinyl, personal care products and cosmetics. A few common VOCs are: Acetone, Benzene, Ethylene glycol, Formaldehyde, Methylene chloride, and Perchloroethylene. 
  • Asthma and Allergy Triggers: common household triggers include mould, dust mites, pollen, second-hand smoke, and pet dander. At any given time, a home may have mould growing on a shower curtain, dust mites in soft textiles like pillows, blankets or stuffed animals, and cat and dog hair on the floor and upholstery. 

Here’s what to do: 

  • Open the windows as much as possible. 
  • Clean or change all the filters in your house regularly, particularly those for your heater or furnace, air conditioner, air purifier, and vacuum. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and stay up to date. 
  • Adjust your humidity levels accordingly with a moisture or humidity gauge, available at most hardware stores. Ideal in-home humidity levels should hover around 45%. Anything under 30% is too dry, over 50% is too high and can contribute to mould growth. To increase humidity, use a vaporizer or humidifier. To decrease humidity, open the windows (if it’s not humid outside), turn on a fan or air conditioner, or use a dehumidifier. 
  • Stay away from synthetic air fresheners and petroleum-based wax candles. 
  • Use a HEPA air purifier. Make sure to get an air purifier that does not produce ozone, and one that does eliminate VOCs that off-gas from paint, furniture, and cleaning chemicals. 
  • Get some green plants. Just one could help reduce VOCs and improve air quality. 
  • Groom your pets regularly. 
  • Paint with low or no VOC paint. Always choose non-toxic adhesive, finishes, and varnishes where possible. (A reputable manufacturer should be upfront about the ingredients.) Be informed about the different materials that go into a piece of furniture, and what is likely to off-gas.