Having a Bad Air Day? Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
3 Steps to Better Indoor Air Quality continued...
Step 2: Turn on the AC. Use an air conditioner in the summer, Schachter says. “Many pollutants are water-soluble, and as air conditioners remove water from the atmosphere, they remove these pollutants,” he tells WebMD. “Air conditioners also remove pollen and particulate matter.”
Step 3: Install a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. You can make the air conditioner even more effective with a disposable HEPA filter, says Schachter.
Stand-alone HEPA air cleaners are another option for cleaning the air in a single room. If they use a fan to draw in the air, they can be noisy, however.
It’s less clear how effective electronic air cleaners are since there is no standard measurement for their effectiveness. Also, electronic cleaners may not be effective at removing large air particles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Indoor Air Pollution: Irritating Gasses
Do you cook with a natural gas or propane stove? ”Get the gas jets cleaned and serviced annually by a technician who can adjust the metering so that the gas burns cleanly,” Calhoun says. This is important for all gas-run appliances.
“In the kitchen, the stove emits nitrogen dioxide, one of the most irritating gases, and when combined with sunlight, produces ozone,” says Schachter. “This gas is so irritating that at higher levels can cause wheezing in people who don't have asthma."
Simple solution? If you have a gas stove, keep the kitchen window open a bit or turn on the fan hood to avoid nitrogen dioxide buildup, he suggests.
Particles in the Air
Cleaning regularly is a good way to keep your indoor air irritant-free, right? Wrong! It can actually make things worse unless you choose your cleaning products wisely.
Some cleaning products, including those with chlorine and ammonia, contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some paints, shellacs, and floor polishes may also contain VOCs. The compounds then go into the air as gases.
You can cut down on VOCs by choosing products that say "low VOC" or "no VOC" or buying fragrance-free cleaners. Harold S. Nelson, MD, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver, advises considering liquids or pastes instead of sprays for cleaning because they disperse fewer particles into the air.
VOCs aren't the only particles affecting air quality. Mold spores that start off in a damp basement can float up into the rest of the house. "Areas of leakage and dampness should be addressed throughout the house,” Nelson says.