How to Improve Indoor Air Quality In Ohio

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air pollution is a significant issue inside your home, yet many people do not realize the consequences of poor air quality in a house. Smoke, dust, dust mites, pet dander, carbon monoxide gas, radon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mold, chemicals, and other allergens and particles exist at higher concentrations inside versus within the outdoor air and we tend to spend more time exposed to indoor air, making these pollutants a big deal. Indoor air pollutants can cause moderate to severe health problems ranging from increased allergy asthma symptoms to cancer and other health conditions.

Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce indoor air pollution and improve indoor air quality for Cincinnati homeowners. Thomas & Galbraith discusses the importance of indoor air quality and what you can do to improve indoor air quality in your home. Learn the ways to reduce particles using air quality solutions, control humidity, and feel more comfortable at home.

Indoor Air Quality and How It Affects You

The Environmental Protection Agency states that indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted compared to outdoor air. Particles and pollutants are able to accumulate in higher concentrations inside the home versus outdoor environments for several reasons:

  • Wind and weather keep outdoor air circulating, dispersing air pollution and spreading it out amongst the fresh air. Most homes lack adequate ventilation and don’t have much air exchange – without proper ventilation, air movement is minimal so air pollutants continue to build up inside. Natural ventilation can only do so much, as it’s not realistic to open windows all the time and most of a home’s natural ventilation has been erased in efforts to increase household energy efficiency.
  • The home’s structure holds humidity and heat within the indoor air. These conditions contribute to poor air quality and higher amounts of indoor air pollutants. Excess humidity can cause certain pollutants to thrive as well as off-gassing from chemicals and cleaners used in the house.
  • The Sun’s natural ultraviolet energy kills harmful pollutants within the outdoor air. The indoor air isn’t normally exposed to this energy so particles like mold and bacteria have better chances of survival within the air in your home.

Health and Indoor Air Quality

While indoor air typically contains more pollutants than outdoor air, that alone isn’t the only reason to be concerned about indoor air quality. We spend most of our time indoors, around 90 percent of our time, actually – this means we are exposed to indoor air pollution issues much more than air pollution in the outdoor air. Problems with pollution inside your home are most likely to affect you than contaminants in the air outside.

Inside, we are exposed to many pollution issues and in higher volumes. This exposure is known to cause health problems ranging in severity. On the mild side, one might experience symptoms similar to allergies or a cold:

  • Irritations of the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

Exposure to certain air pollution inside the home leads to serious health issues. Respiratory conditions, heart disease, cancer, or even death can result. Exposure to radon inside your home can cause lung cancer. Short-term carbon monoxide exposure is often deadly.

Leading Indoor Air Pollutants in Homes

Indoor air pollution is caused by numerous pollutants inside your home. The most common indoor air quality pollutants that affect homes include:

  • Dust and dust mites
  • Pet dander and fur from house pets
  • Secondhand tobacco smoke from smoking indoors
  • Wood smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces
  • Humidity and moisture
  • Chemicals found in cleaning products, personal care items, and air fresheners
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in furniture, building materials, and other products
  • Carbon monoxide from faulty gas appliances or incomplete combustion of fuels in heating units
  • Legionella bacteria that forms in faucets, water heating systems, and showerheads
  • Mold spores that are a natural part of the air or that stem from mold growth issues in the home
  • Pesticides used to treat bug and vermin problems indoors and outside
  • Lead from paints and antiques
  • Radon from within the ground that comes through a home’s foundation cracks

Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality at Home

If you want to improve indoor air and reduce indoor pollution, you should approach your air quality issues from multiple angles. To fight poor air quality, the most important approaches to take are controlling pollutants at their source and improving home ventilation.

Source Control

  • Keep home surfaces clean. Dust and sweep high and low, cleaning all surfaces from ceiling fan blades to floors. A vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter will help you trap more microscopic particles as you clean so they can be removed from the indoor air and your home, such as dust mites, dust, and many other allergens.
  • Wash fabrics like curtains, bed sheets, blankets, pillows, and linens each week. Use a hot water wash with a temperature no lower than 130 degrees Fahrenheit to remove allergens that have collected in the material like pet dander, dead skin cells, and dust mites.
  • Replace pillows every 2 years; replace mattresses every 10 years. Between replacements, use allergen barrier covers on pillows and mattresses to protect against allergen accumulation.
  • Change air filters to your heating and air conditioning units on a regular basis.
  • Have a professional maintain your heating systems and air conditioning units once per year. This service will ensure flue gases are safely vented out of your home and identify mold growing in your HVAC system for active treatment.
  • Have fireplace chimneys and flues professionally inspected and cleaned each year.
  • Close windows when outdoor air pollution levels are high or the pollen count is high in your area. Doing so limits new pollutants from entering your living areas and indoor air.
  • Ban smoking inside your house.
  • Trade cleaning chemicals, chemical air fresheners and candles, perfumes and personal care products, and other household items for natural alternatives that are non-toxic and do not add fumes to the indoor air.
  • Solve plumbing leaks immediately to prevent mold growth and moisture problems inside the house.
  • Clean mold immediately after it is detected on appliance seals, in sinks, or elsewhere in your home.
  • Reduce indoor air pollution with proper care of indoor plants. Pot them using sterile soil and place them in areas with sufficient light. Only water when the soil is dry and add a nearby fan to keep air circulating around the plants. Trim dead spots to avoid decay and mold growth. Contrary to popular belief, house plants aren’t the secret weapon that will help you improve indoor air quality – they can actually add mold and moisture issues inside.
  • To treat pests, use physical methods, nontoxic substances, and natural alternatives to pesticide chemicals.
  • Choose products that are labeled as low VOCs. Allow these items to off-gas outdoors for a few days before you bring them into the home and only use them in areas that have good ventilation.

Ventilation Improvements

  • Repair duct leaks and seal gaps to prevent new pollutants from entering your indoor air.
  • Keep all supply vents and return grilles open and uncovered for proper air circulation through your cooling and heating systems and the home.
  • Open windows for ventilation when outdoor temperatures and conditions allow, so that fresh air can move in and force out polluted air.
  • Direct a fan to blow out the open windows, directing pollution out of the home.
  • Direct portable fans away from people when using them indoors, or else the fans blow pollution directly at individuals.
  • Run whole house fans or attic fans if available to move fresh air into your living areas.
  • Run range hoods when cooking and exhaust fans when bathing to expel moisture, fumes, and odors.

The Right Indoor Air Quality Products for Your Home

In addition to source control and ventilation improvements, invest in an air quality solution for your HVAC system that provides coverage for your entire home. Indoor air quality units like an air purifier, dehumidifier, or air cleaner can help you achieve better control over air pollution and reduce particles in your indoor air.

Air Cleaners

Air cleaners use highly efficient air filters to capture microscopic airborne pollutants and particles at higher efficiencies than standard disposable filters used in the average furnace or air conditioning unit. Installed with the HVAC units, air passes through the air cleaner for advanced filtration of particles when circulating for heating and cooling.

Air Purifiers

An air purifier sanitizes harmful particles in the air like bacteria, viruses, mold, and other bothersome allergens. The pathogens are killed so they are unable to infect or reproduce. Various air purifier types exist using different methods for air purification. UV light air purifiers neutralizes pollution but leaves particles in the air, while air purifiers using fans, filters, and ionization will trap these particles to pull them out of the air supply.

Dehumidifiers

When humidity levels are too high indoors, mold growth can occur and other contaminants can easily thrive within the indoor air. A dehumidifier is installed with an HVAC system to pretreat air for moisture issues. As air circulates for heating or cooling, it passes through the dehumidifier first, which cools the air to condense and remove humidity.

Indoor Air Quality Services in Cincinnati

If you want to improve indoor air quality at your Cincinnati residence, Thomas & Galbraith helps you lower pollution and breathe cleaner air. Contact our team today to learn more about our indoor air quality solutions and installation for your home.

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