Understanding and Improving Indoor Air Quality
When it comes to our well-being, we often focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise. However, there’s one vital aspect of our health that often went overlooked prior to the COVID-19 pandemic: indoor air quality (IAQ). As we enter fall and winter, when viruses are known to spread more in our communities, how can we make sure our indoor spaces have healthy air?
What is indoor air quality?
Indoor air quality refers to the condition of the air within buildings and structures, including homes, offices, schools, and other indoor environments. Studies show that we spend 65% to 90% of our time indoors, so it’s wise to pay attention to the quality of the air we breathe.
Poor indoor air quality can have a significant impact on our health and well-being. Long-term exposure to indoor pollutants is not good for your health. Poor IAQ can even affect our cognitive function, productivity, and overall quality of life. To make sure the air inside your home or workplace is healthy, the first thing you need to do is check it regularly. There are a few ways you can do this.
One option is to use an air quality monitor. These gadgets can measure things like dust, bad chemicals in the air, and even how hot or humid it is. They have a digital screen so you can see right away if something is wrong with the air.
Sometimes, you don’t need electronics. You can just look around. If you see things like mold growing on the walls, smell strange and musty odors, or notice a lot of dust everywhere, it could mean the air is not circulating well.
It’s also important to take good care of your heating, air conditioning, and ventilation systems. Change the air filters regularly. Also, have professionals check these systems to make sure they’re working as they should. When they work well, they help keep the air clean and healthy.
The quality of the air outside is largely out of our control. Wildfires, pollution, and the weather all affect outdoor air. So it’s important to do what we can to make sure our indoor air is as healthy as possible.
There are things we can do to help keep our indoor air clean:
- Keep it clean: Regularly clean your living space. Dust, dirt, and clutter can make the air quality worse. Sweeping, vacuuming, and wiping surfaces can help.
- Let fresh air in: Open windows and doors when you can. This lets fresh outdoor air come in and stale indoor air go out. It’s like giving your room a breath of fresh air!
- No smoking: If someone smokes indoors, ask them to stop or do it outside, away from any open windows.
- Plants are your friends: Indoor plants are not just for decoration. They help clean the air by absorbing some of the bad stuff and releasing oxygen. Greenery can be your IAQ superheroes! English ivy, pothos, spider plants, and snake plants are not only great for air purification—they are also easy to grow. Make sure the plants in your home are not harmful to any pets you have.
- Fix leaks and moisture: Moisture can lead to mold, which is bad for IAQ and your health.
Indoor air quality is a critical factor in our overall health and well-being. By understanding the importance of IAQ, monitoring it regularly, and taking steps to improve it, we can create healthier, more comfortable indoor environments. Prioritizing indoor air quality is an investment in our health and the well-being of our families and colleagues, ensuring we can all breathe easier in the spaces where we spend so much of our lives.