Indoor air quality is much more important than most people believe. The average American spends 87 percent of their life indoors, according to the EPA. If we’re not outside getting fresh air, then it’s essential to do everything we can to improve the quality of the air inside our homes and offices. Here are seven eco-friendly ways to do that without emptying your wallet in the process.
1. Go Green — Literally
Going green, in this case, doesn’t refer to using eco-friendly products or separating your recyclables. When it comes to improving air quality, the concept of going green is a little more literal. Adding plants to your home can help improve interior air quality naturally, at the cost of a bit of water a few times a week. According to NASA, some plants are better than others for this task. To find the best plants for cleaning the air in space, the agency compiled a list of common houseplants that can be used to remove everything from benzene and ammonia to formaldehyde from the air around them.
Most of these plants, from snake plants to English ivy, can be picked up at your local nursery for a few dollars each. Plus, research has shown that keeping houseplants can improve your mental health, so it’s a win-win.
2. Leave Your Shoes Outside
How many of you reading this wear your shoes all the time, even if you’re in the house? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone, but you may also be contributing to the poor air quality within your home. When you wear your shoes indoors, you’re tracking in everything you’ve stepped in during the day, from dust and pollen to dangerous chemicals. These molecules are cast into the air every time you take a step.
Start by leaving your shoes on the porch or just inside your front door. If you need to have something on your feet, keep a pair of slippers or house shoes that you can wear while you’re indoors. This little change can improve the quality of the air in your home without costing you a dime.
3. Call a Professional
If you’re trying to save money, it might be tempting to try to repair your home’s HVAC system on your own. This kind of DIY is only a good idea if you’re an HVAC professional. Otherwise, you may find yourself in over your head with the system’s high voltage power and dangerous refrigerants. One improperly tightened seal could leak coolant into your home, severely compromising your interior air quality and putting both yourself and your family at risk. Releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere is also dangerous for the environment.
Adding organic fruits and vegetables to your diet isn’t just a great way to avoid ingesting pesticides or other dangerous chemicals — it can also help to protect the air quality of your home. The compounds that preserve traditionally farmed produce can permeate the air around them, especially if you leave some of your fruits or vegetables in bowls or on the counter rather than in the fridge.
Going organic might be a little bit more expensive than buying regular grocery store fruits and vegetables, but in the long run, it’s better for your health and the air quality in your home.
5. Fix Those Leaky Taps
Areas that don’t get a lot of foot traffic, like your basement or utility room, might have leaky taps that are ignored. Even minor leaks can be detrimental to your interior air quality, though. The damp environment created by those leaks creates the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Both of these organisms release spores into the atmosphere that can cause allergies and exacerbate existing breathing problems like asthma and COPD.
Depending on the severity of the leak, you may be able to do these repairs yourself. For anything you’re not sure about, it’s always a good idea to call a professional. As a bonus, repairing those leaks will reduce your home’s water usage, which is also eco-friendly.
6. Quit Smoking or Head Outside
Tobacco smoke is one of the most significant contributors to indoor air pollution. While it is illegal to smoke or vape indoors in public places, no such rules exist for private homes. Quitting is the best thing you can do to improve the air quality in your home, but if that isn’t an option, then taking your habit outside can help keep your interior air cleaner.
Secondhand smoke is dangerous to human health, so keeping it out of your home can help improve the health of everyone who lives there.
7. Limit Products With VOCs
Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) appear in many products you might use every day, from your aerosol hair spray to the cleaning products beneath your sink. To make your home a little bit more eco-friendly while improving interior air quality, limit the number of VOCs in your home. With so many eco-conscious consumers making educated decisions about the products they buy, it’s easier than ever to find green cleaning and beauty products.
Do a quick search for low-VOC products, and you’ll be surprised at how many options are available for you to choose from. They may cost you a few dollars more than the chemical-based alternatives, but when it comes to eco-friendly options that are also wallet-friendly, you can’t do much better than this.
You don’t have to empty your wallet to improve the quality of the air in your home or business. It can be as simple as adding some greenery to each room or swapping out your bleach and ammonia cleaners for green alternatives.
Spring officially started! We can say goodbye to winter, but when do we have to say hello to allergy season? It seems like allergy season lasts all year, and technically it does. Watery eyes, stuffy nose, rashes and other symptoms can show up thanks to triggers all year.
So when does spring allergy season actually start? And more importantly for me, when can I expect it to end? We look into and provide tips to help you get through spring allergies below.
When Do Spring Allergies Start?
Spring allergies occur for most people because of pollen. There are different types of pollen to consider (like tree pollen, grass pollen, ragweed pollen). Tree pollen hits in late March and April, and grass pollen isn’t far behind it. Other types of pollen hit later in spring into summer.
Experts say that warmer-than-average winter temperatures and climate change mean allergy season starts earlier and ends later. These factors lead to early tree pollination and led to higher pollen counts than normal for this time of year. As a result, we’re experiencing an early start to allergy season. And if you suffer from tree pollen allergies, you’re likely among the first to feel the effects.
Scientists have a hunch that an early allergy season could mean we’re in for a longer-than-average season. But because rainfall amounts have a bearing on how long trees and flowers pollinate; it’s too early to predict for sure. Whatever the outcome, if you are prone to seasonal allergies, now is a great time to get prepared.
Tips for Dealing with Spring Allergies
Use these simple tips to avoid symptom-triggering pollen and breathe easier this spring:
Know Your Pollen Count
Keep an eye on the daily pollen count for your city. You can use our handy pollen alert tracker in our Learning Center to track your city’s daily reports. On days the count is high (120 or above), stay indoors if possible to keep pollen exposure to a minimum.
Close Your Windows
Although it’s tempting to open your windows and let fresh spring air indoors, it may not be the best thing for your symptoms. Keep windows and doors closed to avoid letting pollen spores circulate and settle inside your home.
Shower After Spending Time Outside
Take a shower after spending time outdoors to wash pollen out of your hair and keep it from falling onto your pillow.
Consider Using An Air Purifier
Air purifiers, especially those that have HEPA filters, filter even the tiniest pollen spores out of your air along with other symptom triggers like dust, mold, and pet dander. With regular use, you can reduce and even eliminate your symptoms. Browse our air purifiers for allergies to see our top recommended models.
When to Expect Spring Allergies to End
So when do spring allergies go away? Unfortunately, the same qualities that make allergy season start earlier also makes them stay longer. April tends to be the worst month for most spring allergy-sufferers, but spring allergies typically last until early summer. It’s pretty easy to see why: That’s when most of the flowers and trees are blooming.
Tree pollen is the most common culprit for spring allergies. Grass and weeds also cause issues later in the spring allergy season. Most people see their allergy symptoms start to disappear by early June, but it can change depending on where you live in the country. The best idea is to be prepared and use our tips to fight them any time of year.
At the end of the day, after work or school, we always look forward to coming home again. Our minds and hearts are attached to our homes because of the sense of belonging, comfort, and safety that it provides. Feeling safe is the state of not being exposed to danger or risk, and that is how our homes should feel, right? So, let me ask you, are you sure you are safe within your home?
You may feel that there’s nothing lurking within the corners of the rooms of your home. However, if you are setting aside the fact that there could be molds in your house, then you are getting further away from the sense of safety that your home should provide. Molds are not something you should overlook.
Molds usually appear on damp building materials and may look like stains. They can come in various colors and sizes. You may have seen some sort of spot growing in the interior of your house, and that is not something that should be ignored.
Molds can create a lot of nuisance and danger for you and your loved ones. It can give your family nasal and sinus congestion, coughs, headaches, asthma, skin irritations, and much more.
If your home is attacked by molds, you have to do something about it. Here are some signs that your house may have been infected by molds:
Allergic reactions. If you notice that your allergies tend to react and even get worse while you’re at home, chances are there are molds growing in your house. Some allergic reactions to mold could be sore eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion.
Mold odors. A musty or moldy smell can be a great indicator that there are molds in your home. If you can smell mold, then you probably have mold. You should thoroughly inspect your home before it gets worse.
Visible signs of molds. When you see greenish black spots of molds, then it’s obvious. Take action immediately.
Water issues. If you have experienced water leakages, condensation, or past floods in your house, mold growth is likely to have occurred. If there are water stains or discoloration of the walls due to a moisture problem, there is most likely mold growing behind the material.
Your home is where your family should feel safe. If you’ve noticed the above-mentioned signs of mold growth in your house, please do not ignore it. Ignoring it might cause you bigger problems in the future.
If you want to be sure of your homes safety, contact Fun Guy Inspection and Consulting Inc. They will provide a thorough inspection of your home and you can have peace of mind.
Knowledge about the potential benefits and possible problems of air duct cleaning is limited. Since conditions in every home are different, it is impossible to generalize about whether or not air duct cleaning in your home would be beneficial.
If no one in your household suffers from allergies or unexplained symptoms or illnesses and if, after a visual inspection of the inside of the ducts, you see no indication that your air ducts are contaminated with large deposits of dust or mold (no musty odor or visible mold growth), having your air ducts cleaned is probably unnecessary. It is normal for the return registers to get dusty as dust-laden air is pulled through the grate. This does not indicate that your air ducts are contaminated with heavy deposits of dust or debris; the registers can be easily vacuumed or removed and cleaned.
On the other hand, if family members are experiencing unusual or unexplained symptoms or illnesses that you think might be related to your home environment, you should discuss the situation with your doctor. EPA has published the following publications for guidance on identifying possible indoor air quality problems and ways to prevent or fix them.
You may consider having your air ducts cleaned simply because it seems logical that air ducts will get dirty over time and should occasionally be cleaned. While the debate about the value of periodic duct cleaning continues, no evidence suggests that such cleaning would be detrimental, provided that it is done properly.
On the other hand, if a service provider fails to follow proper duct cleaning procedures, duct cleaning can cause indoor air problems. For example, an inadequate vacuum collection system can release more dust, dirt and other contaminants than if you had left the ducts alone. A careless or inadequately trained service provider can damage your ducts or heating and cooling system, possibly increasing your heating and air conditioning costs or forcing you to undertake difficult and costly repairs or replacements.
You should consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if:
There is substantial visible mold growth inside hard surface (e.g., sheet metal) ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system. There are several important points to understand concerning mold detection in heating and cooling systems:
Many sections of your heating and cooling system may not be accessible for a visible inspection, so ask the service provider to show you any mold they say exists.
You should be aware that although a substance may look like mold, a positive determination of whether it is mold or not can be made only by an expert and may require laboratory analysis for final confirmation. For about $50, some microbiology laboratories can tell you whether a sample sent to them on a clear strip of sticky household tape is mold or simply a substance that resembles it.
If you have insulated air ducts and the insulation gets wet or moldy it cannot be effectively cleaned and should be removed and replaced.
If the conditions causing the mold growth in the first place are not corrected, mold growth will recur.
Ducts are infested with vermin, e.g. (rodents or insects)
Ducts are clogged with excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.
Original Article Source:https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/should-you-have-air-ducts-your-home-cleaned
People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold.
If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.
Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.
If you plan to be inside the building for a while or you plan to clean up mold, you should buy N95 masks (or a respirator with a higher protection level) at your local home supply store and wear one while in the building. Make certain that you follow instructions on the package for fitting the mask tightly to your face. Even if you go back into the building for a short time and are not cleaning up mold, you need to wear an N95 mask.
After natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. When returning to a home that has been flooded, be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family.
People at Greatest Risk from Mold
People with asthma, allergies, or other breathing conditions may be more sensitive to mold.
People with immune suppression (such as people with HIV infection, cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and people who have received an organ transplant) are more susceptible to mold infections. People with a weakened immune system, especially people receiving treatment for cancer, people who have had an organ or stem cell transplant, and people taking medicines that suppress the immune system, should avoid cleaning up mold. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
Possible Health Effects of Mold Exposure
People who are sensitive to mold may experience stuffy nose, irritated eyes, wheezing, or skin irritation. People allergic to mold may have difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath. People with weakened immune systems and with chronic lung diseases, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop mold infections in their lungs. If you or your family members have health problems after exposure to mold, contact your doctor or other health care provider.
Safely Preventing Mold Growth
Clean up and dry out the building quickly (within 24 to 48 hours). Open doors and windows. Use fans to dry out the building. Position fans to blow air out doors or windows.
When in doubt, take it out! Remove all porous items that have been wet for more than 48 hours and that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items can remain a source of mold growth and should be removed from the home. Porous, noncleanable items include carpeting and carpet padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation material, some clothing, leather, paper, wood, and food. Removal and cleaning are important because even dead mold may cause allergic reactions in some people.
To prevent mold growth, clean wet items and surfaces with detergent and water.
Homeowners may want to temporarily store items outside of the home until insurance claims can be filed. See recommendations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
If there is mold growth in your home, you should clean up the moldand fix any water problem, such as leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing. Controlling moisture in your home is the most critical factor for preventing mold growth.
To remove mold growth from hard surfaces use commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for use (see product label). Use a stiff brush on rough surface materials such as concrete.
If you choose to use bleach to remove mold:
Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes
Open windows and doors to provide fresh air. Use fans to dry out the building. Position fans to blow air out doors or windows.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.
For more information on personal safety while cleaning up after a natural disaster, see Response Worker Health and Safety.
If you plan to be inside the building for a while or you plan to clean up mold, you should buy N95 masks (or respirators with a higher protection level) at your local home supply store and wear one while in the building. Make certain that you follow instructions on the package for fitting the mask tightly to your face. Even if you go back into the building for a short time and are not cleaning up mold, you still need to wear an N95 mask.”
Original Article Source: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/index.html
National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month is observed annually in October. This month is dedicated to reminding Americans to take a look at their home and see how they can improve the quality of the air they breathe. While outside air pollution gets a lot of attention, it’s the air inside our homes that can be even more dangerous. Most people spend nearly 80% of their time indoors, so the quality of the air we breathe is very important.
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor Air Quality refers to the air quality within buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of the occupants in the building. Studies conducted by the EPA show that indoor air can be 3 – 5 times more contaminated than outdoor air. This spike in air pollution may be due to modern day building practices. In an effort to be more energy efficient, today’s homes are built airtight with more insulation.
On the flipside, these less drafty homes no longer have natural ventilation to bring in fresh air. Everyday living provides an ongoing source for airborne contaminants like dirt, dust, and dander. These pollutants become trapped in your home due to poor ventilation and get recirculated by your air ducts.
Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?
Breathing quality indoor air is critical for good health. Common complaints related to poor indoor air quality include headaches, fatigue, nausea or irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Some people, including children, seniors and those with asthma and allergies may be more sensitive to indoor air pollutants, and their symptoms tend to be more serious.
What Contributes to Indoor Air Quality?
Volatile organic compounds
Particulates (from dirt and dust tracked in from outdoors)
How Can Air Duct Cleaning Improve your Indoor Air?
Air duct cleaning is a great way to address the air quality inside your home. Professional air duct cleaning can provide an evaluation of your home’s ducts. Through everyday occupancy, your home’s ducts can become clogged with dirt, dust and pet hair. When air can’t circulate through a system or when filters are especially dirty, they can become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria.
NADCA recommends having your air ducts inspected once a year and cleaned as needed. When it comes time to hire an air duct cleaning company, be sure to hire a NADCA-certified technician. This will ensure the job is done according to industry standards.