You look for quality in life: quality time, quality sleep, quality food, but what about quality air? Have you thought about the indoor air quality in your home and how it can affect you and your loved ones? When the quality of air in your home is poor, you can experience health problems. How can you get quality in life and improve your quality of life? One simple step is improving your indoor air quality.
Why Indoor Air Quality Matters
The quality of air in your home can affect you and your family in ways you may not be aware of. Particles in the air can trigger allergies. Frequent coughing can be a sign of poor air quality. Some symptoms brought on by poor indoor air quality can make allergies annoying or even unbearable.
Unusual odors can also be a sign of less-than-desirable air quality. The indoor air quality in your home can even impact your energy level and your mood!
In addition, when the humidity indoors is unregulated, it may not cause health issues but it can become annoying. Living with high humidity in warmer months can cause you to feel sweaty and uncomfortable while nosebleeds, dry eyes, and dry skin can occur in colder months when the humidity levels are often too low.
Poor indoor air quality is often a factor when it comes to common health issues. Exposure to contaminants such as dust, mold, pollen and pests can contribute to possibly making you ill. These effects can be both short-term and long-term.
Some illnesses are exacerbated by poor indoor air quality. For instance, humidity levels can affect the amount of bacteria in the air. According to a Columbia University study, flu epidemics almost always followed a drop in air humidity. It seems that viruses can stay active for longer periods of time in drier air.
Finally, long-term exposure to certain contaminants such as dust, fumes or smoke can result in asthma-like symptoms which can lead to respiratory infections such as bronchitis or other issues.
Your pet’s health
Your pets breathe the same air as you do and are just as susceptible to contaminants in the air. In fact, they will often be more sensitive to poor indoor air quality. According to American Veterinarian, “Potential indoor airborne hazards for pets are similar to those that affect people, including tobacco smoke, incense, cooking fumes, cleaning chemicals, and kerosene and coal combustion.”
There is an increased chance that animals will encounter mold spores or pests that could directly cause health problems. Dogs and cats, the most common pets, are closer to the ground where dust and mold tend to be more highly concentrated. Your furry friends also tend to find hidden nooks and crannies where dust and mold can collect unnoticed.
Additionally, pets are naturally curious and investigate with their noses. Imagine you came upon a patch of mold growing in your basement. Would you go right up to it with your nose and sniff it intently? Of course not, but your pet would! In doing so, your pet would directly inhale thousands of mold spores.
Best Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Maintain Proper Humidity
Maintaining the right level of humidity can improve air quality. Too much of anything isn’t a good thing. Air that is too dry can allow bacteria and viruses to live longer which can promote infection. In fact, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, estimated that 30 percent of the viruses flying around in the air could be eliminated simply by running an air humidifier.
On the other hand, mold growth is encouraged at high levels of humidity. So, humidity itself is not necessarily beneficial, the balance of the proper humidity level – 30 to 50 percent – is the key.
The best way to control humidity is with a dehumidifier. Most models have a built-in humidity sensor which allows the humidity level in a room or floor of the home to be regulated. Similar to the way a thermostat regulates the temperature in your home.
Keep Up with Regular Cleaning
It may seem obvious, but regularly cleaning your home will have a positive effect on the overall indoor air quality. Keeping dust, dirt and pests away is a constant battle, but cleaning on a regular basis keeps the enemies of your air quality at bay. Be sure to include regular cleaning in areas where dust builds up: between blinds and inside vents. These areas are often overlooked and therefore a haven for dust.
Also, keep an eye out for mold while cleaning. If you discover mold, you can clean it up, but remember that if it has a source of moisture, it will come back. Dampness and high humidity promote mold growth. Areas you may not realize mold can grow are in vents as well as sheetrock, carpets and insulation if it is damp. Mold can even grow in your dehumidifier because of the accumulation of water in the condensation pan! So, add that to your list of areas to clean regularly.
Fix Foundation Cracks Immediately
Cracks, even small ones, in your foundation allow moisture to seep into your home. While not necessarily visible, this excess moisture can lead to mold which contaminates your home with its spores.
Mold spores are tiny – 2 to 100 micrometers – and may not be noticeable right away. Some molds contain mycotoxins. These substances can act as irritants, even if you are not allergic to molds. The spores and mycotoxins can cause respiratory irritation. Additionally, musty odors resulting from mold can make your basement extremely unpleasant.
Invest in an Air Purifier
Unfortunately, the side effect of striving for energy-efficient homes is poorer air quality. The more air-tight a home is, the less ventilation there is. Some homes, whether or not they are the most energy-efficient, need additional help filtering the air to improve indoor air quality.
Fortunately, there are tools like the E-Z Breathe® which can make a significant difference in the air quality of your home. This maintenance-free unit helps exchange stale, contaminated air in your home for fresh air, resulting in better quality of air throughout your home.
Replace or Clean Your Filters
It is important to regularly clean or replace your filters. Filters can help remove irritants from the air; however, they lose potency as they work. Anything in your home that uses filters likely has filters which need to be cleaned or replaced. Creating a schedule can help you remember to clean or replace them on a set time-frame, depending on the type of filter.
The Biggest Threat to Indoor Air Quality is Moisture
While air that is too dry can allow viruses to linger for longer periods of time, moisture is the single-most likely source to indirectly reduce your home’s air quality.
Leaving dampness unchecked, whether excess water is in drips, puddles or simply high humidity, results in undesirable side effects. These can range from several different types of pests to molds or mildews that will circulate through the air.
Moisture typically enters through the lowest point in your home. The best way to protect your home and ensure indoor air quality is with a basement waterproofing system.
Schedule Your FREE Annual Foundation Inspection
The best way to keep your basement dry is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.
Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!
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