If you’re wondering what causes indoor air pollution, you’re in the right place. We’ll be covering the causes as well as sharing why it’s important to monitor the air quality in your home.
Whether it’s time spent eating, studying, sleeping, or working, you’d be surprised at the number of hours you really while away at home. That’s never been truer than in the past year, because what was once just our sleeping and eating quarters may also play the role of a home office, gym, and entertainment zone all in one. Now that we’re spending so much time huffing and puffing in the same small space, it’s increasingly important that we keep tabs on indoor air pollution in the home.
It’s easy to pass off an itchy nose as allergies or a common cold, or put dusty vents down to poor cleaning habits, but one of the biggest suspects is polluted air – and it’s not just bodies that will act out in retaliation, but our homes too, mostly through mold, humidity issues and dust build-up. Most importantly, without proper maintenance, the best central air conditioning units (opens in new tab) and best window air conditioners (opens in new tab) will only push polluted air around your home, which is why it’s so important to get one of the best air purifiers (opens in new tab) on the job and start actively tackling your pollution problem.
What impacts indoor air quality?
It’s easy to brush off air quality as being down to one or two obvious culprits, such as cigarette smoke and harsh chemicals from cleaning products. However, there are several sly sources of pollution that might wreak havoc on your air quality without you suspecting a thing. Some of these include combustion byproducts from household staples such as woodburning stoves and cooking appliances to paints, pesticides and even pet dander, an unfortunate tussle for homeowners who have a beloved furry companion living with them.
Of course, mold may be one of the first things that comes to your mind when you think of poor air quality and that’s certainly a key player, as growths can give off toxic spores. If you’ve spotted signs of what looks like mold, find out what the problem is by using one of the best mold test kits (opens in new tab).
There are also other pollutants that will wriggle their way into your home without the fuzzy green giveaway and that includes things like pesticides, insecticides, and chimney smoke, which can enter from the outside through windows, doors or cracks in your building structure.
Other offenders may be more deep-rooted, as building materials, insulation or wood products such as old furniture can often off-gas chemicals after being worn down over time.
How do you know if you have poor quality air?
In order to sniff out what’s causing your poor quality air, you’ll want to start right there - with your nose. Some of the biggest culprits, especially mold and chemicals, will give off a nasty stink. While this is a good giveaway that your air quality isn’t up to scratch, you’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for visual signs that your home isn’t happy. Mold growths, thick layers of dust, or grime clogging your vents are some of the telltale signals.
Remember, vents are how the air travels around your home, so if grubby vents are not checked and stripped clear of pollutants, devices such as the best central air conditioning units (opens in new tab) and best window air conditioners (opens in new tab) will only blow the dust, spores and dander further around your home. You may also find that your home has hot and cold patches, down to poor ventilation.
Of course, there are physical symptoms too. While it’s easy to pass sneezing and coughing off as allergies or having caught a chill, poor quality air can cause cold symptoms, bloodshot eyes, a headache, regular nosebleeds, and itchy, dry eyes or skin. Sleep problems are a natural side effect too, either from cold symptoms or the humidity going up and down in the night.
How can you improve indoor air quality?
There’s more to tackling indoor air pollution than just quitting cigarettes or propping the window open here and there. Firstly, you can kickstart a healthy airflow by investing in one of the best air purifiers (opens in new tab). These handy additions to your home give allergens and pollutants the boot by filtering out dust and pet dander and replenishing stale air.
However, you’ll also want to power up your spring cleaning techniques, as sweeping away dust and dirt manually, cleaning up clutter, and checking your current air conditioner system for dirty air filters will help to make sure that the air being pumped around your home is free of pesky pollutants.
While you’re at it, a powerful, clean and non-faulty air conditioning system such as one of the best central air conditioning units (opens in new tab) should be top of your list too, because an AC system that isn’t powerful enough for your whole home will leave some rooms stale.
Do plants improve indoor air quality?
While growing your own miniature jungle sounds like a good idea on the surface, houseplants really have little impact on your home’s air quality. Sure, they may look and feel calming but unfortunately, the small levels of oxygen they do produce can’t keep up with the pace of the air that’s constantly flowing in and out of your home through openings, vents and cracks.
In fact, plants that have been poorly looked after may actually promote the growth of mold, especially if they’re continually kept moist, either through overwatering or heavy petting. However, as long as you’re not over-tending to your leaves, plants are generally great to have around for ornamental and feel good purposes. Just don’t expect them to readily suck the toxins and pollutants from your home.