Why Clean Air?
Many of us think of outdoor pollution as a common concern to our health and to the environment, but indoor air pollution is estimated to be even worse, on average 2 to 5 times worse, due to a number of sources including lack of circulation within our homes. Contaminated air is a problem because we end up breathing it on a continuous basis, potentially contracting respiratory health issues and other physical ailments.
What Contaminates the Air?
Air pollution can exist in the form of allergenic particulates, infectious agents, and toxic compounds, such as pollen, mold, bacteria, viruses, and pesticides. The main issue with breathing these types of pollutants has to do with their size. Particles 5 microns or less in size are considered to be inhalation hazards, while those 2.5 microns or less are classified as Respirable Suspended Particles (RSPs). RSPs are small enough to evade mucosal capture and are therefore able to enter our lungs, potentially causing health problems. Considering the size of particulates as a concern, it is estimated that 98% of all airborne contaminants are actually 1 micron or less.
Causes of Indoor Air Pollution:
Sick House Syndrome
One of the reasons indoor air pollution is a growing problem is “sick house syndrome.” This term applies in part to the energy-efficient construction of homes over the past several decades, in which houses have been more tightly sealed and heavily insulated to conserve energy. But as a result, circulation is cut off, trapping contaminants that remain in the same “bad” air that flows throughout our homes each and every day.
Dirty Air Ducts
Air ducts act as the lungs of a home comfort system, serving as the passageway for air to be delivered into your home. If ducts become damp or dirty, then they may be a prime breeding ground for mold, fungi, and dust mites, which can consequently end up in your indoor air. Air ducts can and should be thoroughly cleaned to get rid of dust and other debris buildup, which also benefits heating and cooling systems.
Dirty Air Filter
The air filter in your home comfort system acts as an air cleaner on its own. As you heat or cool your home, the air filter works to collect airborne particles; it needs replaced every two or three months to continue to do its job effectively. When an air filter becomes clogged with debris, furnaces and air conditioners have a hard time producing air, or “breathing,” and your indoor air quality may suffer.
Consequences of Breathing Bad Air:
When you breathe bad air on a regular basis, the health effects can range from minor respiratory symptoms to eventual infection or disease. Oftentimes it depends on what you are breathing, how much, and how often. If you suffer from allergies or asthma or have health problems already, then you may be at an even greater risk of contracting or worsening a health issue.
Increased symptoms in children
Children are said to be more vulnerable than adults to many airborne contaminants due to their cellular immaturity and ongoing growth process. Since children breathe more rapidly and inhale more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults do, even minor irritation that would produce a slight response in an adult can result in a dangerous level of swelling in the lining of the narrow airways of a child. Increased exposure to air pollutants during childhood could magnify the risk of long-term damage to a child’s lungs.
What You Can Do:
- Replace your air filter as often as needed, typically every 2-3 months.
- Install an air cleaner in your home comfort system that captures airborne particles more effectively than a regular air filter.
- Increase ventilation in your home by opening windows whenever possible and using exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Clean and vacuum more often, more thoroughly to eliminate dust and debris.
- Have your air ducts cleaned to get rid of dust, bacteria, mold, and other contaminants.