There is a reason outdoor air has always been referred to as “fresh air.” Despite the pollutants and allergens that are often lurking outdoors, the air inside your home, office, or school could be worse for you. Poor indoor air quality is a leading cause of asthma and breathing complications, eye irritation, congestion, and dry coughs.
Indoor air can be polluted by various chemicals, lead, radon, formaldehyde, mold, dust mites, and pet dander. Pet dander can travel from homes into the workplace, even though there are no pets present in the office.
In fact, people are exposed to higher levels of indoor air pollution today due to our modern lifestyles, which are largely spent indoors. And energy-efficient building styles have created airtight spaces that do not allow pollutants to escape. Modern buildings end up with a dangerous accumulation of pollutants that were not present 50 years ago. Volatile organic compounds are also found in many building materials and furniture, further damaging the air quality.
According to the American Lung Association:
- Approximately 40 million people in the U.S. are affected by allergies.
- The prevalence rate of pediatric asthma in the U.S. has increased 72.3 percent, and asthma is the leading chronic illness of children.
- Poor indoor air quality can damage your home, creating structural rot inside walls, in the attic, and around windows.
There are many ways to improve the indoor air quality in your home and office. Here are our top five ways to start.
- Keep floors clean.
Floors should be kept clean of dust as much as possible. Vacuums with HEPA filters can reduce toxins, dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. Floors can then be damp mopped with microfiber mops to gather any remaining dust. Keep door mats near all of your entrances, as this will reduce the amount of pollutants that are tracked inside.
- Avoid too much moisture.
High levels of humidity are a breeding ground for mold and dust mites. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can reduce the moisture indoors and control allergens. Indoor humidity levels should be kept around 30 percent to 50 percent. Always empty drip pans in air conditioners and dehumidifiers, make sure plumbing leaks are fixed promptly, and avoid watering house plants excessively.
- Don’t smoke indoors.
Secondhand smoke is a dangerous indoor air pollutant. Smoking should never be allowed indoors. Secondhand smoke increases a child’s chance of developing ear and respiratory infections, asthma, cancer, and SIDS.
- Test for radon.
Radon is a dangerous gas that rises up from soil and into homes and buildings through cracks in the foundation. New and old buildings are all equally subject to high levels of radon, and testing can be done to determine if you have a radon problem. Radon significantly increases the risk of lung cancer.
- Use natural cleaners.
Laundry detergents, dryer sheets, air fresheners, and all-purpose cleaners can emit volatile organic compounds into your air. Try green cleaning, instead. Use fragrance free or naturally scented, mild cleaners and avoid aerosol spray cans. Open windows to let in fresh air. It will keep stale smells from building up. Indoor plants can keep buildings smelling fresh and act as air purifiers.
Poor indoor air quality affects everyone, both at home and in the workplace. Those especially at risk include children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with a chronic illness. A quality janitorial service improves indoor air quality by using microfiber cleaning towels, HEPA vacuums, and more, to ensure improvements to your indoor air quality.