Is the air you are breathing in your home healthy?
We as Americans spend more than 90% of our time indoors. Studies have shown that the amount of time spent indoors increases Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) occurrences.
Symptoms like prolonged coughs, headaches, tiredness, and respiratory issues, regularly written off as common illnesses, correlate with time spent inside and an inadequate supply of fresh air.
Indoor air is 2-5 times more polluted “than the worst outside air.”
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
The air that fills the space within a building is called indoor air. The amount of contamination within indoor air determines its quality.
After being exposed to the people and processes occurring within a building, indoor air will pick up contamination that is harmful to breathe.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental health risks.
When was the last time you changed your air filter?
When I was young in New Mexico, the cooling system was a swamp cooler, and most everyone had a gas heater of some sort, with a fire. Checking your air filter was not something that one asks in the mid-north parts of the Southwest. The weather there is relatively dry and consistent.
So, what air filter??
Now, a lot of us are becoming energy conscious, moving to Heating Ventilating Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, and sealing our homes to keep the cool or heated air in.
But as anything in nature, one solution introduces another problem.
Sealing buildings to increase energy efficiency reduces the amount of fresh outdoor air exchanged with the indoor air supply.
It is very important to find your filter and change it regularly!
Things you can do to maintain a healthy indoor air quality at home.
The most obvious is to change your air filter regularly. When selecting your filter, realize that not all air filters are the same.
Most filters simply remove particulates from the air. The amount of time that it can do that is limited. You should replace your filter at least once every six months, or as soon as it shows signs of contamination.
Things like smoke, your roommate or family members cold, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) require a special HEPA filter to be removed from your air supply.
HEPA filters have an even shorter lifespan, requiring replacement every 2-3 months. But your air will be cleaner!
Try to open the doors from time to time. When the sun is radiating during the winter, or in the cool evenings during the summer, take the opportunity to let nature do the environmental control and let some fresh air in!
Grow plants indoors. Research has shown that just by having plants in your living area, you are filtering your air. As plants transpire they fulfill what is called Phytoremediation. They hold on to the VOC’s in the air.
When cleaning, painting, doing projects that involve glue, new carpet, renovating, spay paint, make sure that the area is ventilated. Keep chemicals sealed or covered. These products and processes release VOC’s into the air that are harmful to your health.
Maintaining a general cleanliness within your home helps to determine the air quality within it as well. Remove organic material within 1-3 days. Remove garbage regularly. Sweeping and removing dust helps reduce particulates in the air.
Learned from experience.
When I started grad school in Indiana, I rented a home with a group of college kids. I became very sick. It lasted the duration of my first semester. Over time, all of the theories of a cold, or its a flu, or everything I could think of, was just not possible. Eventually I started to search for other answers.
What I found was a dirty mold covered air filter in our basement.
I changed it and shortly after I recovered. In the end it turned out to be a sign because finding a thesis topic is super hard!! Inspired by my close encounter, my masters thesis explored into botanical air filtration.
Growing Aesthetics Into the Biowall. By: Jacob Torres, et al. Herrick Laboratories. Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. 2018. https://1drv.ms/b/s!Apd4AFcNZEUkgfpDVshp3ZCFc3rghQ https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/ihpbc/304/
The Biowall Field Test Analysis and Optimization By: Jacob Torres. M.S. Thesis Purdue University. West Lafayette Indiana. 2019 https://1drv.ms/w/s!Apd4AFcNZEUkgqxwRhqUKcz9l6c48w
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