What You Should Know About the Air Quality In Your Home
When coming across the topic of the healthiness of your home, the air inside it is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind. However, it should be due to many reasons. The amount of time we spend indoors clocks in somewhere around 90 percent depending on climate and other circumstances. The air we are breathing indoors can be up to 10 times more polluted then the air we breathe outside, with the average home being 5 times more polluted then the outside air; a rather surprising revelation. Think of a bag of chips that has been left partially open. Just like the chips get stale, the air in your home can become stale and unpleasant to breathe in. The benefits of good air quality in your home are a long list, however some of the most important benefits are better sleep, reduction of odors, and reduction in energy costs.
The most typical chemicals that fly around in the air of our home are PBDEs or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and VOCs or volatile organic compounds. These chemicals cannot be eliminated from our home easily. The usual culprits that are responsible for VOCs in our homes would be air fresheners, aerosol sprays, dry cleaned clothing items, auto products, paint strippers, cleaners, disinfectants, wood preservatives, stored fuels, hobby supplies, and paints. On the other hand the main culprit of PBDEs are pieces of furniture, fabrics and foams that are sprayed with flame retardant chemicals. Who knew that all of these things could release toxins that remain in our household air for years? When these pollutants circulate throughout our homes, they also circulate through systems like our air conditioning and furnace. Changing AC air filters regularly and investing in a professional furnace cleaning can help stop the circulation of these chemicals.
Once again, when the benefits of good indoor air quality come to mind, the quality of your sleep is probably not one of them. The typical person spends at least seven hours per night in their bedroom, therefore only breathing the air from that room during that span of time. Because of the amount of bedding, carpeting, mattresses, paint, and furniture the typical person keeps in their bedroom, PBDE’s run rampant. While sleeping, you and your family members and even your pets breathe in this air and subsequently these PBDEs. This can be especially problematic for those who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions. A study analyzing the effects of air pollution on humans sleep cycle was done by the MESA Air and Environmental Protection Agency using wrist actigraphy, a method that measures mall movements throughout ones sleep patterns. The measurement of sleep efficiency was used to compare the quality of sleep between the participants. The highest fourth of the group was the group that had been exposed to the most air pollution– and also the group that had a sleep efficiency of less than 88 percent. The effect that poor quality of air is disruptive to sleep has been proven by science and research.
You can find solutions to bad household odors practically on the corner of every street intersection in the US. Trillions of products are made to mask bad smells in our homes and some actually do work to some degree. However, that’s all it is, is masking or hiding the bad smell with the aroma of something more pleasant to the human nose. The majority of bad odors in our homes come from the poor quality of the air circulating (or not) throughout the house. Burning candles, using plug-in air fresheners, and other means of releasing a pleasant aroma into the air can actually be counterproductive by releasing more chemicals that only augment the chemicals already present. Taking common measures such as opening your windows or installing an air filtration/purification system can eliminate chemicals, pet odors, mold and mildew smells, kitchen odors, and smoke odors from the air. An odor free home is a key benefit to clean non-polluted good air quality inside of your home.
Last but not least, one of the most rewarding benefits of good air quality inside your home is the money you will save from it. What typically happens is the filter will do its job and filter out airborne particulates until it reaches its capacity. Once it is no longer able to capture these particles, they then circulate throughout your home and settle on components such as the HVAC coils and furnace, which will interfere with the airflow of the system and push the system compressor to work even harder. Regularly changing your air filter and investing in a professional furnace cleaning will save money by allowing the these system to operate as they should instead of operating on overdrive to try and compensate for the poor air circulation. Other steps to improve circulation and save on energy costs is to use your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fan systems to force stale humid air as well as fumes from cooking to the outside of the home and utilizing ceiling fans to further circulate air within individual rooms. Because such a huge chunk of the electricity bill comes from heating and cooling circulation systems in the home, reducing the strain on those systems will put a few extra dollars in your pocket and promote good air quality in your home.