Why Care About Indoor Air Quality?
Our modern lifestyle, wonderful as it is, can have a dark side. Many substances that we use in everyday life may negatively impact our indoor air quality – the air inside our homes and workplaces. These may include cleaners and solvents, even beauty products. And that air pollution can adversely affect our health.
So, what can we do?
Don’t panic! First, just get present to it. Then, decide how you’re going to respond.
The list of indoor air pollutants is shocking, truly. See the EPA’s list of worst offenders, below.
Bad air inside your house is less of a worry in the summer, for obvious reasons. We’re more likely to have at least some windows open, more of the time. Our exterior doors flap open and shut all day long as children run in and out. Cracked windows on different floors may automatically create some cross-ventilation.
But, in winter, it is a real concern. And if you, or anyone in your family, has allergies…this is a topic you may want to know more about. Here’s what we know:
The Top Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has multiple pages on its website devoted to this topic. The list of worst offenders goes on and on:
As a cleaning company, we could write a whole blog post about dust. (In fact, I think I will.) Because just about all the bits of stuff in our air eventually break down into small particles that show up – in aggregate – as dust. You can be sure the dust in your house is an unsavory mixture that you don’t want to be locked in with!
If you have pets, add their skin and hair particles to the mix.
The combination of these biological particles is not good for lungs, or the rest of the respiratory system.
Dust and mold top the allergy trigger list – and many of our older homes have too much of both. Dust is unavoidable. And some homeowners underestimate the risks of standing water or too moist an environment in general — bacteria thrives in both conditions.
What to Do About It
Awareness about indoor air pollution is absolutely the first step. Once you recognize a hazard, you can take many little steps to minimize its effects. Here’s what we recommend:
Clean house regularly
- You knew I was going to say that, right? Well, this statement has the added benefit of being true. Daily, weekly, and bi-weekly routines that get the dust off your home’s many surfaces and out of the corners will be a gift to the allergy sufferers in your family. Staying rigorously on top of the pet hair is important. If your house is more than you can handle, give us a call. Regular maid service will keep you ship-shape. We offer weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and bi-monthly contracts.
- That said, mind the products that you use in the house – especially in winter. Bleach is a no-no, and avoid other harsh chemical products. When you must use them – for instance, to clean your oven, create cross-ventilation by opening windows on either side of the home – and leave them open till the fumes are gone.
Crack the windows
- Cracking your windows to help control indoor air pollution is always a good idea. However, those of us who live in places with four seasons know that it can be tempting to seal ourselves in during both the “dog days” of summer and the icy days of winter. However, the value of even a little bit of fresh air cannot be overstated.
Fresh air and sunshine are nature’s antiseptic and antibiotic. Whenever you can, open the windows to increase ventilation and create a cross-breeze.
- As I noted in a blog post at the start of the COVID pandemic, fresh air and sunshine are nature’s antiseptic and antibiotic. Whenever you can, open the windows to increase ventilation and create a cross-breeze. If you’re cleaning more often than usual because of the pandemic, the cleaning products will give off fumes and vapors. It’s a must to have ventilation while using toxic products, and until the fumes disperse. This is true in all seasons, but especially in winter when we tend to be shut inside.
Monitor indoor humidity
- The EPA gives us a list of “biologicals” that contribute to harmful levels of indoor air pollution: “bacteria, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen”
- Yet they advise that some of the dangers can be minimized by keeping down the humidity levels in the home. According to the EPA, ” a relative humidity of 30-50 percent is generally recommended for homes.” That inhibits the growth of molds and mildews and other growths that thrive on moisture. Mold is an example of a substance that can go from liquid to airborne (in the form of vapor) and become a danger to humans.
- Avoid letting water stand in the house on floors or large surfaces for any length of time.
Change filters frequently
- Furnace/air conditioner filters should be changed regularly. For the standard fiberglass filters, that means approximately monthly. This one practice alone will improve the quality of your indoor air. There are filters with longer lifetimes. Electrostatic filters that capture smaller particles don’t need to be changed as often. You will pay more for these, but your indoor air quality will be better and healthier.
- There are also air filtration systems – for rooms or for the whole house. If you can afford it, this is a marvelous option.
Get an annual furnace/air conditioner check
- We are advised to get our furnaces checked annually – before we turn them on again at the start of winter. A professional checks for leaks, the integrity of the hardware, changes the filter, and tells you when it’s time to upgrade your system.
Monitor your indoor air quality
- Especially if anyone in the family develops respiratory symptoms with no other explanation, or if allergy symptoms seem to worsen – consider it could be the quality of the air in the house.
Call Park Avenue Cleaning for Bi-Weekly Maid Service
While we long ago stopped striving for perfect, it’s still important — to your health — to get the place cleaned up on a regular basis.
If you’re a working mom who’s trying to make it all work from home, we’ll give you a discount to try us out. We can take at least one of your six jobs off your plate! Now, wouldn’t that feel good?
The Park Avenue Cleaning service area includes Baltimore City, Catonsville,
Columbia, Ellicott City, Fulton, and beyond. Call today!