Even if you’re a bit of a “clean freak” and keep your home in pristine condition, you might be surprised by the hidden pollutants that lurk in the air, and sometimes even on surfaces and in fabrics.
In a modern world, it’s almost impossible to avoid them. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck living with invisible, unhealthy particles that can cause everything from sniffles to full blown respiratory illness, headaches, allergies and worse.
Here are some common causes of indoor air pollution in your home, and what you can do to breather healthier.
The Problem: Odors
Anyone who has ever burned a steak or overcooked a bag of microwave popcorn knows how odors can linger in they air long after the offending food is gone.
Not only is this unpleasant, but odors actually consist of respirable particles, which means you might be inhaling that steak or popcorn flavor all night long. For those with allergies or other sensitivities, that can be especially unpleasant.
Odors go beyond food particles. If you have a pet, you’re probably well acquainted with everything from wet-dog smell to the litter box that someone forgot to clean out. Those odors also contain particles, and in this case they can include dander and even microorganisms like viruses and bacteria. Neither of those is healthy, and they’re even worse for people with asthma, allergies or other illnesses.
Odors can come from many sources. If you have a smoker in the house, even if smoking is only allowed outdoors, you know how the smell – and unhealthy particles – can persist.
Some odors may be pleasant – like perfumes, or the scent of your favorite candle – but those items are still spewing particles into the air that can affect air quality and overall health.
Since you’re not going to give up steak, Fluffy or the relaxing scent of Ocean Breeze, what can you do to improve the air in your home so the whole family can sleep easier, breathe better and be healthier?
The solution is an air purification system attached to your furnace or air handler that will remove contaminants and destroy unhealthy particles before they’re recirculated back into the air in your home.
The best air purifiers will trap microscopic particles as small as .1 microns in size, and kill germs through a UV light purifier that’s effective against microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. In fact, these systems are similar to the ones used by health care professionals in the most sterile environments.
Since the air purifier works when your system’s fan turns on, it will keep the air healthy all year long.
The Problem: Chemical Vapors
Wondering how your home can contain unhealthy chemicals? Before you dismiss this one, consider the many sources of chemical vapors that go unnoticed. Cleaning products are one of the most common culprits.
Everything from your glass cleaner to the stainless steel polish you use on appliances – plus the sprays you use on fabrics to reduce odors after Fluffy’s nap, floor cleaners, mold removers for showers, bleach for the laundry – is a contaminant.
Even if you “go green” and use products that are meant to be healthier for you and the environment, you can’t escape chemical vapors.
Chemicals can come from other places, too. Have you painted a room recently? That paint is emitting vapors long after it dries. Installed new flooring? Purchased a new sofa, mattress or curtains?
Do you have a hobbyist in the family who enjoys creative pursuits that include paints, glues, or dyes?
All of these things emit chemical vapors to some degree. And they can cumulatively affect health, or become detrimental to those whose health is already compromised.
While you can certainly reduce your exposure to chemicals by using these products wisely, and keeping them stored away from living areas, it’s almost impossible to eliminate chemical vapors from your home.
The problem gets compounded by the fact that your home is well-sealed against the outside – keeping cool air inside during summer, and warm air during winter. The problem is that it’s also keeping all those vapors in right along with it.
Don’t stress about what you’re breathing or stop mopping your floors. The solution is a combination of air purification and proper filtration. The air purifier will work the same way on chemical particles as it does on pet dander and popcorn odors, trapping them before they get recirculated into your home.
Proper air filtration as part of your HVAC system will ensure that the right amount of fresh air is circulated into your home, while polluted air is vented outside.
It may sound counterintuitive, but believe it or not, the air inside your home is often far more polluted than the air outside! Best yet, if you’re worried about the effects of bring much warmer or colder air inside, you’ll be pleased to learn that proper ventilation improves your home’s air quality with no noticeable energy loss.
The Problem: Moisture
Too much moisture can make air feel stuffy and warmer than it actually is. It can also promote the growth of some very unhealthy things, like mold, mildew, bacteria and viruses.
On the other hand, too little moisture can cause sore throats, bloody noses and respiratory illnesses. Not only do some viruses enjoy high humidity, but others thrive even more prolifically in low humidity.
If you’re like most people here in New Jersey, you probably experience both during different times of the year.
During winter, you may suffer from the effects of low moisture, including dry, itchy skin and the proliferation of colds and flus as they spread from person to person. The problem is not the cold weather – it’s that intensely dry air will dry out the protective membranes in your nose and throat, making you more susceptible to the germs that do land in your home. And here’s a little statistic: winter air in your home can actually contain less moisture than the Sahara desert!
During summer, on the other hand, you battle high humidity and the uncomfortable, damp feeling it brings. Your shower may be a little harder to keep clean, and allergies spike as pollen rides on moist air and mold thrives just about everywhere.
Since there are very few Goldilocks days where the temperature and humidity are just right, you can take matters into your own hands and combat the extremes with a humidifier and a dehumidifier.
Your home can contain one or both, depending on your needs. Whole house humidifiers and dehumidifiers work with your home’s heating and cooling system to keep moisture at ideal levels in every room.
Humidifiers can work one of two ways. Some types will kick on whenever your furnace does, adding moisture to the air that’s moved through your home. Others work even when the furnace is not on, keeping levels more consistent throughout the day. There are pros and cons to each, so if you’re thinking of adding one to your HVAC system, ask your contractor for advice.
Dehumidifers are similarly attached to your HVAC system and will help to keep moisture at appropriate levels. Both are low maintenance and require a relatively small space to be installed. And both will improve the air quality in your home by reducing an array of unhealthy conditions.
Indoor air quality doesn’t have to keep you up at night. If you’re concerned about pollutants like allergens, chemicals, germs, odors and others, consider one or more of the solutions we mentioned here.
If you have questions, or want to learn more about air purification, humidifiers or dehumidifiers, get in touch for a free consultation and estimate to install the components you need.
Your comfort is our priority.