Last month, we put together a primer all about air pollution in California. As we discussed then, the situation isn’t good, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do about it. Here are four simple steps you can take to improve and maintain indoor air quality.
Your home’s air quality can be an easy thing to overlook, but you’d be amazed what a difference a little careful air management can make in your health and quality of life. You learned about what’s causing California’s air problems last month, so now you’re ready to do something about it. Start in your own home by following these steps, and you’ll already be on your way to making a cleaner, healthier California.
The best way to ensure your home’s air quality is to keep pollutants from getting in at all. Likely sources of indoor air pollution include asbestos, gas from stoves or heaters, radon, pollutants attracted to humidity, bacteria, mold, mildew, pollen, dust and dust mites, and animal feces.
To prevent sources of pollution like these, make sure you have the proper tools, and have these tools inspected and maintained regularly. Use a dehumidifier in your home, especially in the winter. Keep at-risk areas dry to prevent mold and mildew growth. Make sure your insulation does not contain asbestos. Address any water damage on walls or flooring quickly. Replace your HVAC’s air filter regularly, and have professionals inspect your air conditioner and heater once a year to make sure they aren’t leaking any chemicals or other pollutants into your home’s air. Make sure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide sensors, and that they’re working properly.
Fresh air circulation is essential to quality control. Most home HVAC systems don’t naturally introduce fresh air into an enclosed space. Instead, they merely circulates existing air through the system repeatedly. That air gets dirty over time, and even though your vent’s filters were designed to compensate, you’ll see a gradual decrease in air quality.
Ironically, one of the best ways to improve air quality in your home is to let outdoor air in. Your air system can filter out the sort of stuff that makes California’s air dangerous, and letting fresh air in will help to cycle old air out. Remember, your HVAC system needs a clean and effective filters if it’s going to filter out pollutants. Replace your air filters regularly. You can also help facilitate ventilation by using indoor fans, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. Air that’s in motion stays cleaner than stagnant air, which tends to collect pollutants.
Swab the Decks
Most indoor air pollutants, like dust, chemicals, and allergens, are kicked up from the floors and surfaces of your home. Regular household cleaning will go a long way towards keeping your air fresh and clean. Vacuum your floors, especially carpet, at least twice a week. Use a vacuum with strong suction, rotating brushes, and a HEPA filter. Dust also accumulates on walls and furniture, so don’t forget to vacuum there, either.
Mop your floors regularly, too, especially in the kitchen. Make sure you don’t use any strong or toxic cleaner when you’re mopping, or those toxics will float up into your home’s air. Consider having fans and windows open when mopping, or just use plain water instead of a cleaner.
Finally, you can block a lot of pollutants from entering your home in the first place by placing large floor mats at the entrance of every door leading outside. Just make sure you vacuum and wash the mat, too!
There are several kinds of portable indoor air cleaners. All portable air cleaning devices sold in California must be certified by the California Air Resources board. The CEPA has even provided a chart listing safe and effective air cleaners along with a guide for selecting the right cleaner for your home.
Air cleaners work by drawing air through a filter. This filter contains pores so tiny that air can pass through them, but polluting particles cannot. An air cleaner only helps if it’s the right size and type, so make sure to research before buying one. For more information on air cleaners, including how to find the right one for your home, check out the CEPA’s FAQ. Most safe air cleaners are too small to work on an entire home’s air, so if you purchase one, place it in a room where it will do the most good or carry it to the room you’ll be occupying.
As we hope we’ve demonstrated, keeping your home’s air clean is actually really simple. All you have to do is practice a little regular home maintenance and pay some attention to how your utilities are working, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
We have even better news for you: fighting air pollution all over California isn’t difficult, either! Now that you’ve secured your home’s air quality, you’re ready to learn how to become a pollution-fighting superhero, helping improve the health and lives of everyone in California. Look for our blog on how you can do your part for a cleaner California later this month. In the meantime, if you have questions about other ways you can improve your home’s air quality, or if you have any other home maintenance issues, give us a call today.