Symptoms of Poor Air Quality and What You Can Do About It
Alpharetta’s air purification experts at Gagne Heating & Air discuss how regularly changing your air filter can help you breathe easier in your home or business
Typically, when people think about pollution, they think of outdoor sources—cars, heavy machinery, power plants, etc. While these are all certainly major sources of pollution, the pollution generated inside our homes is just as bad and yet often overlooked. Indoor pollutants such as mold, pollen and animal dander can be very harmful and dangerous, especially when they combine with chemicals found in the home. This can create a toxic situation for people with allergies or asthma.
The (PDF) National Safety Council reports that the average person spends the majority of their time indoors (upwards of 90%). More than half of this time (65%) is spent within their own home. Neglecting the air quality in your home can greatly increase the chances of you or your family suffering from allergies, a weakened immune system (leading to more colds) and/or asthma symptoms.
What causes poor indoor air quality?
Some of the biggest culprits behind unhealthy indoor air quality include:
- Cigarette smoke – both from smoking indoors and third-hand smoke on clothing
- Residual chemicals
- Polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) – commonly found in furniture
- Polyurethane – from mattresses
- Pesticides – brought inside on shoes and clothing
- Cleaning products
- Mold and mildew
- Exhaust from poorly ventilated appliances
- Pet dander
Another contributing factor to poor indoor air quality is inadequate ventilation. You should periodically open the windows to help flush out and/or dilute the buildup of pollutants inside your home. It’s virtually impossible to make your home completely pollutant-free (without spending a tremendous amount of time and money), but increasing air ventilation certainly helps.
Even if the air outside contains pollutants and allergens, the fresh air can help your indoor environment from becoming stagnant. That said, you should always check the local allergen forecast before doing so. You wouldn’t want to try and flush your house on a day when the pollen count is particularly high.
Poor Air Quality Symptoms
Indoor air pollutants do not affect everyone the same way; however, you can generally expect the following symptoms to occur when your indoor air quality is becoming poor.
- Bodily irritations
- Skin (in the form of rashes and dry skin)
- Eyes (red, watery, itchy)
- Throat (dry, sore)
- Nose (dry, runny)
- Respiratory infections
- Dizziness and nausea
For those who suffer from allergies and/or asthma, these symptoms often show up quickly and are often more severe.
Improving Your Home’s Air Quality
The first step you can take to improve your home’s air quality is to properly ventilate by periodically opening your windows. In addition, you should consider the following steps:
- Limit the use of highly chemical cleaning products
- Incorporate air-cleaning houseplants into your décor
- Smoke outside only
- Consider installing an air purifier or whole house humidifier (depending on your climate)
Changing the Air Filter
Finally, one of the best ways to instantly improve a home’s indoor air quality is to change the air filter regularly. The rate at which you replace your filters will depend on a range of factors. For instance, if you run your system frequently, you will have to change the filter more often. Also, if you have pets in the home or you smoke indoors, then the filter will clog up quicker. And finally, the more people that live in your home, the more often you should replace your filters too.
Most air filters are efficient for about three months; however, it is advisable to check them every month. Regularly changing your air filters not only helps improve the quality of the air inside your home, but it can also lower your energy bills and make sure that your heating and cooling unit lasts longer.