Health issues can range from minor annoyances such as sneezing to critical symptoms like having a potentially-deadly asthma attack. Even after experiencing the negative physical symptoms of compromised air quality, some of us still may not acknowledge that it is indeed this indoor air that is contributing to our overall well-being. Many factors play into indoor air quality, and luckily, we have the capability to can clean it up and prevent it from interfering as much with our health.
Those of us who live in crowded urban areas face varying levels of air pollution on a daily basis. Like with school grades A through F, cities today are ranked on how well they pass or fail. Some locations have been given as low as a Grade F for air quality due to growing pollution and even have days where the news puts out an air quality alert. During these air quality alert days, people who have breathing sensitivities such as asthma are potentially in danger of asthma attack. It also is especially harmful to the elderly, as well as those with heart disease. But even for those who are young and otherwise healthy, those tiny particles of pollution still enter our lungs and bloodstream every time we breathe them in. Breathing pollution on a consistent basis may even cause diseases like asthma or even cancer to develop over time. Although air pollution typically affects those who go outside, it still can enter homes and other buildings. Keeping doors and windows closed can help, as well as maintaining the efficiency of indoor cooling and heating systems. Using quality filters with air conditioners and heaters, as well as changing these filters frequently, can significantly help indoor air quality in highly polluted areas. Additionally, air purifiers can help to keep indoor air clean.
People who suffer from seasonal allergies may not realize that they are contributing in an undesirable way to their indoor air quality. On a daily basis, especially during peak pollen seasons, we do not realize the amount of allergens we bring inside. Since pollen is so tiny that it cannot typically be seen by the naked eye, it enters clinging to our clothes, to our hair, and to our shoes. Pets also bring it into the house via their fur and paws, leaving it on the carpets and furniture. Then, any time the pollen gets disturbed, it travels back up into the air, where we breathe it in. One way to help pollen not affect air quality is to keep doors and windows closed. Also, taking off shoes after we come inside helps, as well as changing clothes if we have been outside for longer than a few minutes. At night we can bathe and wash our hair so we don’t take the pollen with us into bed. We can also vacuum and dust frequently. Keeping air conditioning systems in working order also helps, as well as using air purifiers.
Similar to pollen is the problem of dust. Many people are allergic to dust, and it accumulates in homes even when doors and windows are kept shut. Dust can be made up of many things, including dead skin, pollen, sand, dirt, insect waste, pet dander, and more. Like with pollen, it gets stirred up with movement and stays in the air we breathe. It also attracts dust mites, which are tiny bugs that feed on the contents of the dust. Dust mites can collect anywhere there is dust, and many people are as allergic to them as they are to the dust itself. Keeping the house clean by vacuuming the carpet, washing linens and drapes, dusting counter-tops, and mopping tile and hardwood floor helps get rid of most of our dust. Central air and heat system maintenance also aids in cleaning the air, especially keeping filters changed so they can collect the dust, saving us from having to breathe it in.
One of the more obvious ways we can keep indoor air clean is to keep all tobacco products outside. Smoke contains many harmful chemicals that are known to contribute to diseases such as emphysema and cancer, and those who smoke indoors lower the air quality not only for themselves but also for those who live with them. Second-hand smoke has even been linked to disease, including asthma, particularly in children and young adults. By keeping smoke completely out of homes and businesses, we automatically make the quality of our air better.