There are three things that each and every one of us puts into our bodies on a daily basis that play a significant role in shaping our health.
The first two, food and drink, are well noted.
The third, which is the very air we breathe, often does not get the recognition it deserves.
As Canadians we spend upwards of 90% of our lives indoors and although we often deliberate over the cleanliness of the air outside, it is the air we breathe in our homes and offices that will ultimately represent the majority of what we take in.
In fact, most experts agree that the quality of our indoor air poses much more of a concern to our health than the quality of outdoor air.
In today’s article we will explore the consequences of sub optimal indoor air quality, identify the sources of contaminants in our indoor and air and discuss some simple solutions that anyone can do to help improve the quality of air they breathe on a daily basis.
The Signs And Symptoms Of Poor Indoor Air
Although we are all affected by the air we breathe, those living with asthma, allergies or conditions of the lungs are particularly susceptible to contaminants in indoor air.
Do you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis?
- Aggravated asthma or allergy symptoms
- Fatigue, headaches
- Sinus congestion, coughing, sneezing
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, throat
- Dizziness, nausea
Well certainly common concerns may be attributed to other causes; they can also be brought on or worsened by continuous exposure to unclean indoor air.
What Are The Causes Of Poor Indoor Air?
Well, quite frankly, there are tons.
One very common cause is uncontrolled moisture in the home leading to mould growth.
Uncontrolled moisture can commonly occur in basements, bathrooms and showers.
If your bathroom windows consistently steam up after use, that’s a reasonable sign that you have poor ventilation and are at risk for compromised indoor air due to mould growth.
Most of us have heard about mould and moisture before though, and it’s a topic we have frequently discussed here at eieihome.com.
One of the less commonly recognized threats to our indoor air quality is a an odourless, colourless gas known as Radon.
It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but happens to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada and you could be breathing in high levels of it in your home without knowing it.
The good news is that your local hardware store sells the piece of equipment (radon detector) you need to test the Radon levels in your home.
Health Canada recommends you use a long-term rather than short-term detector, as the measurements are more accurate.
If your home’s Radon levels are above the healthy range, you will likely need to hire a contractor to complete a process known as Active Soil Depressurisation (ASD), which helps to remedy the problem.
Did you know: Radon can seep into your home through cracks in your basement walls and floor.
What Else Can I Do?
I didn’t mean to jump right at you with a discussion of Radon, but it is certainly something homeowners should be aware of.
But what else can you do, without the help of a fancy test or a contractor, to improve the quality of air in your home?
- Kill Dust Mites: Dust mites are microscopic organisms that tend to live in pillows, mattresses, carpets and upholstery. Many people are allergic to them, and their presence compromises the quality of indoor air. Here’s how to reduce their numbers:
- Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels below 50%
- Regularly vacuum upholstery & carpets
- Wash your bedding regularly in hot water
- Regularly change your furnace and air conditioning filters
- Regularly clean your heating ducts
- Improve Ventilation: Ventilation really refers to the movement of air, and one of the best ways to improve the movement of air in your home is to allow indoor air to move outside.
Ventilation is critical to improving indoor air quality and all it takes from you is keeping your windows and doors open as often as possible, as weather permits.
If you have bathroom or kitchen fans (especially those that exhaust to the outside) be sure to make use of them, they are there for a reason.
Pro Tip: Leave your bathroom fans on for at least 15 minutes after a shower to help reduce moisture levels.
- Consider an Air Cleaner: Air cleaners are not miracle machines and if you have humidity issues and mould in your home, an air cleaner is not he solution.
With that being said, if you do opt for an air cleaner you will want to ask for one with a HEPA filter, high efficiency rate and high air circulation rate.
The indoor air we breathe on a daily basis plays a critical but undervalued role in our health.
My hope is that today’s article has opened up to your eyes (as well as your ears, nose and
mouth) to that fact while also offering some practicable and actionable solutions to put you on a path to much cleaner in-home air from here on out.
If today’s content seemed like a lot to take in, head over to our previous, briefer version of this article on the 10 Easy Steps To Cleaner Indoor Air.