There are many health risks that it’s easy to be aware of, from accidents to fire risks. However, the invisible risks are often the most dangerous simply because we rarely notice on them and, as such, rarely act on them. The air quality of the home is one such factor. It plays a role in all of our health, yet many of us would have a tough time defining it without a little education first. So, here’s that little education on what air quality is and some of the biggest risks to it in the home.
About air quality
Air quality is, effectively, how fresh the air is and how many contaminants it has in it. Poor air quality is a serious health risk, that has been linked to a range of health issues, including lung disease, asthma, and even fatigue. Because it’s invisible, it can be hard to identify the quality of the air in your home with our own senses. However, there are both home air testing kits as well as air quality professionals who can help you find out whether the air in your home might be making you sick.
Bellow, let’s look at a few of the most common risks to your air quality and what you can do about them.
The easiest way to ensure poor air quality is to let air stagnate and make sure that it never moves elsewhere. Without good air movement in the home, dust, debris, and allergens all tend to build in the one spot. This is why it’s essential to ensure good ventilation in the home, using air conditioners and vents that dry the air in the home, as well as pulling air from outside to replace stale air. Better performing ceiling fans are amongst some of the best tools for displacing stale air, as well, keeping up the airflow in the home. We all want to keep our homes sealed to prevent our heating bills shooting up, but letting in the fresh air is important in maintaining a healthy home, too.
Pets and pests
When it comes to pets like cats and dogs, a little dander is expected. However, you should ensure that you’re cleaning as regularly as you need to, depending on how much they shed. Their dander and associated debris can decrease air quality in the home greatly. Pests are an even greater threat, however, so if you spot any signs of them, you should arrange for pest control as soon as you can. Their dander is significantly more likely to be a health risk since they often carry communicable diseases, they tend to leave nesting material, urine, and droppings around the home, all of which are dangerous. If you prefer to invite wildlife into your garden, make sure you’re taking natural measures to prevent pests as well, such as using companion plants.
Dust mites in your sheets and clothes
Ensuring cleanliness when it comes to your clothes and bedsheets is essential. Otherwise, dust mites cling to them, leading to irritation of the nose, throat, and eyes, as well as feelings of general lethargy. Allergenic cleaning products should be used on bedding, cushions, and curtains in the home. You may also want to consider replacing some of the soft furnishings in your home with hypoallergenic alternatives. These can stop dust mites from gathering in the first place.
Invite a little green
It might sound like some natural living craze, but the truth is that a good houseplant can do your home a world of good. Basic biology will tell you that they help purify the air, in part by taking in the carbon dioxide that you breathe out and by producing fresh oxygen. You should look for the houseplants that are well known for their ability to clear the air of toxins, such as English Ivy and Bamboo Palm. It helps that they’re a great looking addition to the home and known to be good for your mental health as well.
Stop using cleaning products that are bad for your health
Artificial cleaning products such as bleach and air freshener are a lot worse for your health than you might realize. Ingredients such as formaldehyde and sodium hypochlorite can irritate your skin, throat, and lungs, increasing the risk of disease over the long-term. Instead, you should consider using things like lemon and malt vinegar, which can be just as effective household cleaners but are much, much safer. Still want the convenience of cleaners in bottles? I love our safe cleaning products from Grove. Even if you wipe down after using household cleaners, they often leave a residue that can impact air quality over time.
Keep your house clean
It may sound like a no brainer, but regularly cleaning the house is essential for your air quality, as dust and animal dander are much less common in homes where regular indoor hygiene is followed. As mentioned above, you should use green products without harmful chemicals in them to wipe down surfaces, but most of the danger is going to be in your soft furnishings. Your carpet, for instance, should be tackled using a vacuum with a HEPA filter installed. You should also look at the instructions on how to wash your bedding, drapes, rugs, and other soft accessories, as they tend to collect a lot of allergens over time.
Make the home easier to clean
You don’t have to spend all day dusting to keep the home free of dust, either. If allergens and air quality are a significant concern to you, or someone in your home has asthma, then it may make more sense to instead look at how you can make the home easier to clean. For one, opting for a minimalist decorating style gives dust and debris fewer corners to gather in and fewer edges to cling to. Using fewer soft furnishings can help, too. For instance, you can replace your dusty curtains with blinds, and opt for wall to wall flooring options like wood or vinyl instead of keeping a carpet. Think about whether you would spend more time cleaning or more on replacing the parts of the home that necessitate that cleaning the most.
Consider using an air purifier
In some cases, you may have trouble controlling the source of an allergen. If you’re allergic or asthmatic, that might not mean that you’re willing to give up the family cat, for instance. However, even if that is the case, an air purifier may be able to help. Ionic air purifiers are the most widely recommended type and can help by capturing the allergens and other irritants in the air that can cause problems of low air quality. They won’t completely clear the home of any contaminants in the air, of course, but they can drastically reduce them. A dehumidifier does much the same kind of job in areas like the basement and bathroom, stopping the contaminants that lead to mold and damp growth. Salt lamps and beeswax candles are natural helps to clean the air.
Be aware of air pollution forecasts, as well
Though this is not strictly inside your home, we should define our environment, at least partly, as the area that we live in. When it comes to air quality, local levels of air pollution can greatly affect it. You can look at daily air pollution forecasts where you live and, if they are high, avoid spending too much time doing anything strenuous outdoors.
Now that you know what air quality is, you’re going to start spotting risks to it all over the home. This is a good thing. You can fight one of the biggest invisible causes of disease, ensuring a healthy and happy home.