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Now More Than Ever: Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home

Family relaxing and kids playing in a living room

More time spent in your home means a greater risk of exposure to pollutants that can negatively impact your health and comfort.

We spend most of our time indoors - whether at home, school, or work. Now, because of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we’re spending even more time in our homes.

While we’re focused on taking precautions to reduce our chances of coming in contact with COVID-19, spending more time at home means we’re also at risk of exposure to indoor air pollutants that can make us sick.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution among the top four environmental hazards in the U.S. Pollutant levels can be as high as 100 times the levels encountered outside.

The effects of indoor air pollution can be like those from colds or other viral diseases, so it can be difficult to determine the cause of your symptoms. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Some pollutants cause or worsen allergies, respiratory illnesses (such as asthma), heart disease, cancer and other serious long-term conditions. Certain pollutants at high concentrations, such as carbon monoxide, can cause death.

COVID-19 can be especially harmful for elderly people and those with health problems. The same is true of indoor air pollution.

What’s in your home’s air - Common indoor air pollutants

The EPA lists many sources of indoor air pollution. These can include:

  • Fuel-burning combustion appliances
  • Tobacco products
  • Building materials and furnishings such as:
    • Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation
    • New flooring, upholstery, or carpet
    • Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
  • Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
  • Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
  • Excess moisture
  • Outdoor sources that enter the building through open windows, cracks, and other openings. These sources include:
    • Radon
    • Pesticides
    • Outdoor air pollution

What you can do now to improve air quality in your home

Here are some tips that can help you protect and improve the air quality throughout your home.

  1. Remove or reduce the sources of pollution

    Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are a main cause of unhealthy air in homes.

    Learn how to turn your HVAC system into an air cleaning machine!

    There are three common strategies for controlling indoor air pollution:

    • Source control - Eliminate individual sources of pollution or reduce their emissions.
    • Ventilation - Increase the amount of fresh outdoor air coming indoors to dilute emissions from indoor sources and carry indoor air pollutants out of the home.
    • Filtration - Filter the air in a single room or throughout the whole house to reduce indoor air pollution.

    What to do: Open windows and doors to let in fresh air from outside. Run your air conditioner with the vent control open. Run bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans to increase ventilation and remove pollutants. Use a portable air cleaner and/or upgrade the air filter in your HVAC system. The Breathe EZ Air Cleaner filters radon decay; captures allergens, airborne mold spores, smoke, pet dander; removes volatile organic compounds (VOCs); attracts viruses and bacteria; and reduces dust. The Breathe EZ Air Cleaner is an electronic filter, which means particles are electrically charged and "cling" to the filter media and the open-weave construction won’t restrict air flow through the HVAC system.

    Graph chart comparing Breathe EZ air cleaner and other types of air filters

    Graph shows airborne particles by size along with different filter types. As you can see, the Breathe EZ Air Cleaner filters all the particles listed.

  2. Test for radon and fix if there’s a problem

    Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed in the soil. It can get inside through cracks and openings in floors and walls that are in contact with the ground. Radon can have a big impact on your indoor air quality and long-term exposure causes lung cancer.

    What to do: Find out if there’s a radon problem in your home with a radon test. National Radon Defense offers continuous radon monitors that can provide an accurate radon level reading in about 48 hours. If your test result is 4pCi/L or higher, lower the radon level in your home with a radon mitigation system.

  3. Get rid of excess moisture or water to prevent mold

    Water can enter the home by leaking inside through the roof or around windows or by seeping through basement floors or walls. Showers and cooking can also add moisture to the air in your home. Mold can grow anywhere there’s moisture. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions, respiratory ailments, and asthma symptoms.

    What to do: Fix water problems, such as plumbing and roof leaks. If water in the basement is a recurring problem, install a drainage system and sump pump. Seal a dirt crawl space with a crawl space encapsulation system. Install a dehumidifier to maintain a healthy indoor humidity level. Look for a unit with an air filter and automatic water removal and humidity control. The SaniDry Sedona offers all of these features and it’s Energy Star rated for energy efficiency.

  4. Reduce airborne mold spores and bacteria
    Mold and mildew thrive in wet, dark environments and are commonly found in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units. This means air containing mold spores and bacteria is circulated throughout the house.

    What to do: Install an ultraviolet light for HVAC systems that helps kill harmful bacteria and mold, prevents organic buildup on coil surfaces and in ducts, improves the airflow and energy efficiency of your HVAC system, and reduces the need for air duct cleaning. The Breathe EZ UVC Light does all of this, plus it doesn’t produce ozone that can contribute to eye, nose and other respiratory problems.

If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home, learn more about the 5 Danger Levels of Indoor Air Quality (with video content) or contact us to schedule a free indoor air quality evaluation from your local National Radon Defense contractor.