How Everyday Activities in Your Home Can Impact Your IAQ
When it comes to breathing clean air in your own home, it is easy to get carried away with what contaminants and particles are floating around your living space. But have you ever taken a good hard look at how those particles got there in the first place?
According to the EPA, concentrations of some pollutants can be two to five times higher indoors than they are outdoors. Those pollutants can affect the health of you and anyone else breathing the air in your home, as we covered recently in a recent blog, The Spooky Truth About Indoor Air Quality. So how are these pollutants entering your home, and what can you do to reduce it? Here are a few everyday activities that can negatively impact your indoor air quality (IAQ).
Understanding Indoor Contaminants
There are many different types of particles that can be found in the air of many of the homes here in Nashville — here is a deeper look at the most common ones.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
A volatile organic compound is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency as “organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure.” VOCs often come from things like carpet, the wood your home is constructed with, and the paint on the walls. VOCs can also be emitted from cleaning products, new furniture, some electronics like printers, and hobby materials like glues and paints. Mold also gives off organic VOCs, which are responsible for the characteristic moldy odors associated with damp indoor spaces.
Though many things can cause allergies, we often refer to allergens as the byproducts of other living organisms that cause an allergic reaction in humans. Some of the examples found in our homes include pet dander, mold, dust, dust mites, and cockroach droppings. Outdoor allergens, like pollen, can enter into the home on clothes, shoes, or our pets.
Other Air Pollutants
Air pollutants are toxic airborne substances that made their way into the air we breathe. This includes gasses, like carbon monoxide, particulate matter from dust, insulation, or cooking, radon, and lead.
Indoor Activities that Reduce Air Quality
Now that you know what types of particles can reduce the quality of the air you breathe, let’s examine some of the activities that can increase how many of those particles are in your home:
Cooking introduces a number of contaminants into your air. This is because cooking often involves using combustion appliances and heating ingredients at high temperatures. Combustion appliances give off a byproduct called nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide while heating oils and fats can release harmful VOCs. The extra heat that cooking produces can also cause countertops and cabinets to off-gas VOCs like formaldehyde.
IAQ Tip: Run your oven range hood for 30 minutes after cooking.
Some of the products used to clean the outside of your body can actually eventually do harm to the inside of it. Chemicals in shampoos and soaps can release harmful particles into your breathing air, which will recirculate in your home. And if you’ve ever wondered why your house smells musty, it is usually because of a mold issue that stems from excess moisture in your house. This can be accelerated by a bathroom that is not properly ventilated with an exhaust fan!
IAQ Tip: Use organic-based shower products when possible, and ask the team at E3 if your bathroom ventilation is up to par.
In order to keep a clean home, you probably have a closet full of cleaning products. Detergents, carpet cleaners, disinfectants, and soaps can release harmful particles into your breathing air — and often contain formaldehyde. Plus, vacuuming your carpet often stirs up other allergens like pet dander, which will begin to re-circulate in your heating and cooling system.
IAQ Tip: Be careful of the ingredients in the cleaners you buy, make sure you replace your air filters, and ask the team at E3 about your options for whole-home ventilation.
Ever wondered if indoor plants can improve air quality? Sure, plants have carbon dioxide-absorbing qualities. But recent studies have shown that it would take a very high number of plants to actually remove a substantial amount of harmful contaminants from the air. Indoor houseplants contain allergens and require moisture, which increases the likelihood of mold growth and mildew in a house.
IAQ Tip: Move your indoor plants outside if possible, and replace the soil in your indoor pots as often as possible to prevent any mold from forming.
Keep an Eye on Your IAQ with E3 INNOVATE
Making small changes to your everyday activities can give your IAQ a lift, but that isn’t the whole story. If you are suffering from the negative health effects of poor IAQ, or are seeing signs of mold in your house, or you want to reduce the dust in your home and are wondering, “Who tests air quality in the home?”, get to the heart of the problem by calling Nashville’s IAQ experts at E3 INNOVATE.
Our holistic, whole-home approach will locate the areas in your home that are exacerbating your IAQ issues, and recommend solutions that will provide lasting results. We can perform air quality testing, but most of the time, a whole-home assessment is recommended in order to find the root cause and the most appropriate solution, whether that be air sealing, crawlspace encapsulation, air purification, or whole house dehumidifiers. But, of course, each home presents its own unique challenges. Your custom problems require custom solutions, so call the team at E3 INNOVATE!