When talking about air pollution, it’s common to think of it as an outdoor problem you don’t need to worry about when you’re inside your home. However, indoor air pollutants like dust mites, mould, pet dander, and gasses can make the air quality inside your home just as poor as — and often worse than — the air quality outside. To improve the air quality inside your home, try taking these simple steps.
Increase the air flow in your home
Improving the air quality in your home can be as simple as allowing the air to circulate throughout the day so that indoor pollutants aren’t concentrated in one room. There are two key ways you can do this.
First, try opening your windows to let fresh air in. While the windows are open, leave your home’s interior doors open as well to allow air to circulate throughout your home. However, be sure to check pollution and pollen levels in your area before opening your windows, and keep your windows shut during rush hour traffic in the morning and evening if you live near a highway or busy road.
Second, program your thermostat — many modern thermostats have a ‘circulate’ mode, which can allow your indoor fan to run for a set period of time every hour to improve air flow in your home.
Filter pollutants from the air in your home
To remove some indoor air pollutants and particles completely, consider investing in a portable air purifier and adding houseplants to your home.
Portable air purifiers
Air purifiers typically have a fan and filters that work together to remove large airborne particles like pet dander and dust from the air. As air from your home is sucked into the purifier by the fan, particles are captured by the filter and clean air is pushed back out into the room.
Air purifying plants
In addition to purchasing a purifier, consider adding air purifying plants like bamboo palms, ferns, and snake plants (among others) to your home. These plants are known for removing harmful toxins and chemicals like formaldehyde (found in building materials) and benzene (found in tobacco smoke) from the air while breathing a breath of fresh air into your space.
It’s important to note that while portable air purifiers and plants can effectively remove particles from the air to some degree, most don’t remove gasses, and you’ll need to take separate steps to protect your family from gasses.
Monitor radon and carbon monoxide levels in your home
Radon and carbon monoxide are both odourless and colourless gasses that can pose serious risks to your health if they’re left undetected in your home. While radon can be found in various soil types and move up into your home through its foundation, carbon monoxide comes from burning fuels like natural gas, propane, oil, wood, kerosene, and coal.
The Government of Canada recommends that you test your home for radon at least once during “heating season” (between October and April) to make sure it’s at a safe level. The government also recommends re-testing your home whenever you make any major renovations that could change the ventilation or air flow in your home. Check out Health Canada’s guide for taking radon measurements for more information.
To protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning, you should have carbon monoxide detectors that have been certified by the Canadian Standard Association working in your home year-round. It’s recommended to install at least one alarm on each level of your home near your family’s main sleeping areas, and to make sure it’s not blocked by furniture or drapes.
Prevent mould from growing in your home
Mould can grow anywhere in your home where there’s flooding, leaks, or high humidity, and it can cause serious air quality problems, especially for people with breathing issues. While you can’t completely mould-proof your home, there are several steps can take to help prevent mould from growing, including:
- Cleaning up spills and leaks as soon as they happen
- Turning on exhaust fans in your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room for ventilation while cooking dinner, taking a shower, or doing laundry
- Keeping your home’s humidity level between 50 and 60 per cent in the summer and between 30 and 40 per cent in the winter
- Regularly inspecting your roof and gutters for damage that could potentially cause leaks
If you find mould growth caused by a sudden and accidental situation — like a water leak in your home while you’re away on vacation — your home insurance policy might cover the damage. However, it’s important to note that mould growth that’s caused by preventable maintenance issues most likely won’t be covered by insurance.
If you’re wondering what other steps you can take to improve the air quality in your home, check out this guide from the Government of Canada for more practical tips.
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