Since you spend lots of time at home, if your home’s air quality is poor, then the health of you and your loved ones will suffer. You may notice symptoms such as worsened asthma or headaches. Especially if mold is growing in your house, poor air quality can have even more serious effects.
Air Quality is More Than Just Bad Smells
Many homeowners believe that they can smell the quality of their air. Some chemicals like volatile organic compounds, or “VOCs,” do have a notable smell. VOCs like benzene, acetone and formaldehyde come from paints, cleaning chemicals, pesticides, carpets, vinyls, and more. In the short-term, VOCs cause headaches and irritations of the ears, nose and throat. With long-term exposure, VOCs can also damage your kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Researchers have also investigated VOCs as potential carcinogens.
Nevertheless, there are other contaminants that your nose can’t detect. For instance, combustion pollutants pose a serious and often acute danger to your health. These are chemicals like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, which are colorless and odorless gasses released from burning sources such as dryers, fireplaces or stoves.
Plus, don’t forget about allergens and asthma triggers, such as animal dander, dust and mold spores. These allergens can plug up your nose and make you cough, but over time they may have more serious effects on your health, such as those associated with toxic black mold. Finally, viruses and bacteria floating in the air can make your whole family sick!
The idea of invisible contaminants in your home may make you nervous, but don’t worry. There are easy steps you can take to remove these substances from your home’s air. These five tips will keep your air safe to breathe, even during months when you can’t crack a window.
1. Vacuum Regularly
Vacuuming is one of the best ways of pulling dust, dirt, and dander from your carpet and floors that would otherwise gradually make their way into your air. Ideally, you want to vacuum once a week, but you may need to do so more often if you have pets or if someone in your home is allergic to dust or pet dander.
When you vacuum, don’t forget to vacuum your pillows, mattresses, and upholstery. A surprising amount of dust and dander can accumulate there! Change your vacuum’s bag regularly to make sure it has the sucking power it needs to pull all the dust from carpets. If someone in your home has allergies, consider investing in a vacuum with a HEPA filter to make absolutely certain that you catch all allergens rather than letting them circulate in the air.
2. Use an Air-Purifying Plant
Researchers at NASA conducted experiments to discover which plants are most efficient at not just producing oxygen, but also cleaning air. They’re using their fascinating results to help astronauts on long space missions, but there’s no reason that you can’t grow these common houseplants in your own home to take advantage of their far-out discoveries.
You can read about air purifying plants for a full list of which plants work the hardest to clean your air. Many of these plants are common in houses and offices, such as the areca palm, money plants, spider plants, philodendrons and aloe vera plant. Just watch out because not all of these plants are safe for pets or children.
3. Maintain a Healthy Home Humidity Level
If your home’s humidity is too low, you’ll feel uncomfortable. If it’s too high, then you risk mold growth. Experts recommend maintaining a humidity level between 30 and 50 percent in your home to strike a comfortable and safe balance.
The best way to maintain your home’s humidity is to install a home ventilation system. Because your home’s basement frequently traps damp air that it can release later into the rest of your house, basement air ventilation will fix your musty basement and decrease your home’s humidity in general.
4. Test for Radon and Carbon Monoxide
Radon and carbon monoxide are both colorless, odorless gasses that can cause serious health consequences. Both stoves and dryers release carbon monoxide, sometimes called “the silent killer.” It causes weakness, headache, fatigue and eventually unconsciousness. You can even die from overexposure to carbon monoxide. Radon is a radioactive gas that exists naturally in the environment in some regions, which causes cancer with exposure over time.
To prevent danger from carbon monoxide, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and test it twice annually to make sure its batteries still work. Many outlets sell radon detectors as well, and there are also radon test kits on the market so that you can test your home.
5. Install a UV Air Purifier
UV air filters use UV rays to purify your home’s air and kill microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, preventing the spread of diseases through your home. Plus, a WAVE Air Purifier serves as both a UV-light air purifier and an air filter. With its multi-stage cleaning action, it removes mold, pollen, viruses, bacteria and dust mites to get your home’s air really clean.
The quality of your home’s air has a direct effect on your well-being. Even if you do not suffer from asthma or allergies, long-term exposure to the substances that damage your home’s air quality can do serious damage to your health. Therefore, by taking some basic steps to purify your air, you’ll make sure your home and the people in it are happy and healthy for years to come.