It’s a cold winter morning. All you want to do is sip a hot cup of tea sitting on a cushy carpet with a warm fuzzy blanket. The windows shut tight, the heater is on and not a hint of the cold drafts in your cozy room. But this tempting winter wonderland scenario is not the healthiest for your home’s air quality nor for your lungs.
The tightly shut doors and windows are now blocking the fresh oxygen outside from entering your house. The heater warming up your cozy room is probably emitting carbon dioxide, adding to the CO2 that you are already exhaling into the indoor environment. The gas stove you prepared that hot cup of tea on, has already released Nitrogen Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide and other gases into your breathable air. The carpet and blanket have probably been collecting dust and minute particles in their fibre all season, and the slightest fidget releases the particles back into the air you breathe. Because of the lack of circulation of fresh air, the pollutants cannot escape from the room and are now making their way into your lungs.
Indoor air quality can deteriorate from the most seemingly harmless activities and conditions that are common to most households such as:
Emissions from appliances such as stovetops, heaters, ovens
Fumes from newly painted walls
Varnishing on the wooden furniture
Chemical cleaning products
Aromatic candles and air fresheners
Lack of ventilation in winters
Another common problem in most homes in winters is seepage or moisture on walls which makes way for mold or mildew that contaminates your indoor air. Without fans or sunlight to rid this moisture, the damp walls increase the humidity indoors, expanding the risk of allergens, bacterial and fungal spores in the air.
Poor indoor air quality is not as innocent as most people think. Household pollution is a major cause of respiratory and heart-related diseases. Infact, recent studies also prove that air pollution can have a negative impact on your mental health. Those suffering from asthma, bronchitis and other lung conditions are gambling with their health if they do not pay heed to the air quality in their indoor space.
So how can you improve your indoor air quality in winters?
Avoid using gas-powered heaters or fireplaces in closed rooms.
Install vents/chimneys in the kitchen to minimise the emissions from stoves and clean these vents regularly.
Vacuum your carpets, rugs, furnishings once every week to get rid of dust and other particles.
Use dehumidifiers to reduce moisture in the air if you cannot improve ventilation or allow sunlight.
If you have an HVAC system, clean the ducts regularly to make sure there are no blockages.
If you do not know which air quality issue needs your immediate attention, you can go for an air quality test. IAQ evaluations through air monitoring sensors can analyse the air in your indoor space and give you quantitative data on the pollutants. This way you can see the PM2.5, PM10, CO2, VOC or humidity levels of your home and decide which problem to act on the quickest.
ActiveBuildings’ Indoor Air Quality tests not only give you a report on the health of your air but also give you a set of recommendations to improve the conditions. Indoor air pollution is serious and can seem overwhelming, but a few lifestyle changes, a little information and sharing your concerns with the right professionals can guarantee healthy air for you and your family.