How To Improve Indoor Air Quality: The Facts about Indoor Air Pollution

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Image Credit: home.howstuffworks.com

Alright, so maybe your family isn’t wearing gas/breathing masks at home. However, if you knew the problems with indoor air quality, you may be moved to take steps to protect yourself from it too. You may think you don’t need to be that worried about the air in your home, but consider this:

1. Indoor air pollution is 2 to 5 times worse than the air outdoors (an estimated 87% of American homeowners are not aware of this)

2. The EPA has ranked indoor air pollution among the top 5 environmental dangers

3. An increase in the number of children with asthma and severe allergies has been linked to increasingly poor indoor air quality

4. A recent study referenced on indoorairqualityhvac.com states that 86% of homes have high levels of particles and bioaerosols like pollen, dust, and viruses

Indoor air pollution is clearly a problem.

Fortunately it is a problem that can be managed. To do so, you have to first identify the common sources of indoor air pollution such as:

  • Cleaning and personal care products, pastes, glues
  • Building materials such as carpet, insulation, cabinetry, and more
  • Combustion products such as tobacco smoke, gas, oil, kerosene and wood stoves or fireplaces
  • Pet dander, mold, dust mites, viruses

 

To improve the air quality in your home, there are three important things you need to consider:

1. Change your HVAC filter on a regular basis. In addition to improving the efficiency of your HVAC unit (thus saving you a lot of money) it also acts as a line of defense between you and many of the air pollutants outlined above.

Tip: Your HVAC filter should be replaced every 3 months.

2. Increase ventilation. Consider opening the windows more often during warmer temperature days to increase a steady air flow through the home. Homes with poor air circulation tend to have poor air quality.

Tip: Avoid home ventilation on days with a high pollen count, as it can cause flareups for allergy sufferers.

3. Consider outside sources to improve your indoor air quality such as investing in an air purifier to help reduce dust mites, mold, pet dander and more.

Tip: Certain house plants such as the Peace Lily can help purify the air, but should never be considered as the sole source for better air quality.

With the right tools you don’t have to worry about wearing masks in your home as long as you pay attention to your air quality. Changing your air filters more regularly, buying an Indoor Air Quality Test Kit, or any other method can make your home the safe and healthy sanctuary it should be for you and your family.

Enter the Clean Air Zone!

Politicians and lay people alike both talk and argue about the effects of the environment on Americans. Clean air and clean living have become trendy issues in the past decade. Green homes, recycling, and hybrid cars are just a few of the ways that people can help make our air a little bit cleaner. With harsh effects of polluted air such asthma and other respiratory problems, it is now more important than ever to protect yourself against the dangerous effects of polluted air. One organization, the Clean Air Task Force, is doing just that.

The Clean Air Task Force is based out of Boston and was formed in 1996. Their primary goal is outlined as such: “To enact federal policy to reduce the pollutants from America’s coal-fired power plants that cause respiratory death and disease, smog, acid rain, and haze.” This group of researchers, advocates, and private sector contributors are working towards getting the American people to truly understand the negative health effects that coal and diesel emissions have.

For example, diesel trucks can pose a serious health risk to pedestrians as it is emitted at ground level. As the CATF explained, “Diesel exhaust is comprised of microscopic carbon soot particles that act to absorb metals and other toxic substances in the exhaust. When inhaled by humans, these tiny, toxic-laden particles cross the blood barrier from lungs into the bloodstream, delivering the toxics to internal organs and leading to inflammation and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases…”

Diesel exhaust leads to approximately 400,000 asthma attacks a year. To get an idea of how much diesel exhaust is released by a local school bus, check out these videos. The first shows an ordinary school bus, while the second is fitted with a diesel filter.

The diesel filter makes a huge difference in the amount of emissions released into the air. The same goes for your indoor air quality. As the CATF has shown us, air pollution is a serious problem and has significant health effects on Americans today. If you are concerned about pollutants and allergens in your home, it is important to equip your home with the proper filters. It is paramount that you change your HVAC filter regularly, and a higher MERV rating, the better. These filters will help to remove particles and mold spores, keeping them out of the air you breathe.

Another way to protect the air you breathe inside your home is to use an air purifier. These will assist in the removal of bacteria and germs that are found in your home, protecting you and your family from sickness. While solving the world’s pollution problems may be very far off, cleaning the air in your home is an inexpensive way for you and your family to stay healthy. While the CATF does their part, it is important that we do ours!

Charity Tuesday- The Fresh Air Fund

With fall just around the corner, I wanted to focus on a FRESH AIR charity for this Charity Tuesday. There is really nothing better than stepping out onto your front porch to breathe in the cool, clean, crisp air of fall. As the leaves begin to turn into beautiful reds, oranges and yellows, I would like to feature The Fresh Air Fund as Filter’s Fast Charity Tuesday pick. With many charities focused on providing fresh water to people around the world, it is refreshing to see a charity that understands the importance of fresh air. In particular, the Fresh Air Fund in New York City has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1 million inner city children since it began in 1877.

The Fresh Air Fund provides two different avenues for inner-city children to experience the country. For many children, this is their first time under America’s starry sky without the interruption of harsh city lights. Fresh Air Fund camps host 3,000 children between the ages of eight to 15 yearly. These camps are split up by age, special needs, and gender, allowing parents to choose the most suitable camp for their child. Many children who have never been outside of the city are able to experience swimming, milking a cow, cabin living and fishing among many other activities. There are also year-round day and weekend camping trips available.

The Fresh Air Fund also provides 5,000 children with the opportunity to spend two or more weeks with a host family in 13 Northeastern states through their Friendly Town Program.  Here, children from disadvantaged New York City communities have the opportunity to live in a small rural/suburban community.  Being a host family for the Fresh Air Family means that you are providing a child with the opportunity to experience life outside of the city and it is rewarding for both you and the child you are hosting!

The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit organization that is able to provide these great opportunities due to peoples generous donations. It is easy to make a tax-deductible donation in any amount on their secure website. If you understand the importance of clean fresh air, and outdoor activities for children, then The Fresh Air Fund is the charity for you.

 

*Speaking of fresh air, the Fall can bring unwanted air contaminants into your home, decreasing your homes indoor air quality. If you are concerned about the air quality inside your home, an air filter or air purifier will help significantly!