Now more than ever before people are spending much of their days indoors. Many adults now work more from home, while some schools also offer remote learning. Even for those that do not spend much time at home, it is important to ensure a safe and healthy environment as at the very least they will spend several hours sleeping in it.
In many homes or apartment building, indoor air quality is a big problem also. And landlords or property management company should be responsible for addressing. Pollution is not something we often consider a risk issue in the home unless you live near a factory that emits pollutants. However, it is not just smoke and soot in the air that denotes a polluted environment. Changes to certain everyday habits and products that we use in the home can be a big help in making for cleaner air in the home.
Make a habit of airing out your home daily. Open up windows to let in the fresh air and clear out the stale. More so for the kitchen and bathrooms. If you have an extractor fan, ensure it is running while you cook to negate any build-up of nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. Wood, gas, and oil-burning stoves and ovens, water heaters and poorly fitted appliances are common emitters of these pollutants in the home.
Ensuring good air circulation will also help wherever you have water splashes, like the bathroom and kitchen. If you leave water standing, there will be a build-up of humidity which can contribute to the formation of mould. Mould can cause respiratory problems, especially in young children and seniors. Where possible, avoid air-drying of clothes within the house. Invest in a dryer or hang the clothes outside or on the balcony where there is plenty of sun and breeze to help with drying.
While carpets can help with aesthetics around the home and make for a comfortable walking surface underfoot, they are a good place for dust, animal hair and dander to hide out of sight. When dirt builds up within the fibres, it can cause the air in the home to become more polluted, especially when someone walks on them to kick up the pollutants. Those used in wet areas like bathrooms can harbour both dirt and dampness, making for another place for mould to form.
Avoid having carpets around the house unless you are willing to regularly clean and dry them. It is preferable to have just hard surface floors that you can easily clean and dry. This will also make it more noticeable if they are dirtied as the stains are exposed.
The only exception would be at your entrance. A welcome or doormat is a good investment as it delineates the indoor and outdoor environment. As your household members and guests come in, have them leave their shoes at the door. Consider having household slippers people can wear instead as they enter, leaving behind dirt that is underfoot at the door. This will reduce the amount of dust and dirt that will penetrate the home, ensuring a cleaner environment.
Household Cleaners and Perfumes
Many of the household cleaning products and air fresheners we use include harsh chemical ingredients. Their odour can linger in the air when we use them and cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs in some people. Skin allergy reactions are also common with some products.
Keeping your house clean is vital to ensuring good air quality. However, you will want to rely on mild or organic household cleaners. While in some cases they may require applying some extra elbow grease to get the job done, they are safer for use.
You may also want to switch to milder or organic perfumes and skin lotions. The strong smell of perfume or lotion can irritate a sensitive person’s airways. It can even trigger an episode for anyone with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions. Avoid the use of scented or plain candles. It is not just the odour that can pollute, but also the smoke emitted during burning.
Ensure that if you have an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system in the home, it is properly maintained. Regular servicing is needed to ensure that filtration is working properly in eliminating airborne allergens and does not end up just recirculating polluted air. This can be especially dangerous if you have children or seniors with compromised immune and respiratory systems.
Running your air conditioner can help reduce the level of humidity in your home. Preserving a cool indoor environment can discourage the formation and growth of mould and germs. An HVAC system also helps get rid of strong or unpleasant odours.
As it filters the air, it ensures occupants get to enjoy clean breathing air. This can reduce stress levels and limit the risk of allergens and illness. Cleaner air also encourages better sleep, which in turn also contributes to improved health for the household.
If you have a household member that smokes, ensure that they only do so outside of the home. While the habit is dangerous to their health, second-hand smoke can also be a risk to those that do not indulge. Many people die from cancer that is caused by second-hand smoke. It can be particularly risky to unborn foetuses, babies, and those with respiratory conditions.
The smoke that is produced contains harmful toxins that can linger in the air and settle on clothing, furniture, and even surfaces like walls. Contact with this kind of contamination is referred to as third-hand smoke that can also be deadly. This is another reason you should also avoid smoking in your car to avoid causing harm to other passengers.
Create a comfortable smoking area away from your house so you have somewhere to go when the urge arises. However, the best option would be to stop smoking altogether. When a smoker gets home, they should change out their clothes immediately and launder their smoky attire. If possible, separately from the rest of the household’s laundry and air dry outside for maximum airing. Soaking garments before washing in a vinegar or lemon juice solution can also help freshen up their smell.