We spend most of our times indoors. And while it might come as a surprise, indoor air quality can often be more polluted than the outdoor air. That’s why it’s important to understand why air quality matters, as well as a few handy tips to make sure the air you’re breathing is clean.
Why does indoor air quality matter?
Most of us assume that the air quality inside our home is clean and pollution-free. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, the CSIRO estimates that the cost of poor indoor air quality in Australia may be as high as $12 billion per year.
So why is indoor air quality so important? Poor air quality can impact your health, comfort, well being and productivity. Air pollutants (gas, fumes, moulds, bacteria, cleaning products) can cause problems such as sore eyes and headaches, as well as worsen allergies, respiratory illnesses, cancer, and other long-term conditions.
To improve the quality of the air inside your home or business, here are five easy (and affordable) tips.
1. Add air-filtering plants
Improving indoor air quality can be as simple as adding potted houseplants to spaces. How does this work? Basically, plants clean the air through the photosynthesis process as they take in carbon dioxide. The microorganisms found in plants are also in the potting soil, and these microbes play a big role in the cleaning effect. Plus, indoor plants simply make a room feel and look better. Here are 10 air-filtering plant to get you started:
- Devil’s Ivy
- Spider Plant
- Weeping Fig
- Bamboo Palm
- Spider Plant
- Peace Lily
- Boston Fern
- Chinese Evergreen
- Flamingo Lily
2. Clean your home regularly
These days, we’re spending more and more time inside our homes. To combat the risk of poor indoor air quality, it’s important to keep your house clean. Here are a few simple ways to do this:
- Vacuum thoroughly two or three times a week to keep the chemicals and allergens found in dust under control – as well as pollen, pet dander and dust mites. Tile and hardwood flooring are your best options for good air quality as they don’t hang on to nasty germs.
- Mopping picks up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind. Try out a microfiber mop to capture more dust and dirt, and use plain water without added cleaners.
- Lay down mats. Prevent chemical from coming in by laying down doormats for people to wipe their shoes.
3. Control the humidity
Dust mites and mould love nothing more than moisture. That’s why you need to keep the humidity in your home under control – at around 30% to 50%. Using a dehumidifier will help reduce moisture in indoor air and control allergens, while an air conditioner during the summer also reduces indoor pollen count. Here are some more helpful tips:
- Open the window or use an exhaust fan when cooking, bathing or using the dishwasher
- Water your houseplants – but don’t overwater them
- Fix leaky plumbing
- Vent the clothes dryer to the outside
4. Use natural air fresheners
They might smell nice, but synthetic fragrances in air fresheners emit a range of potentially toxic or hazardous chemicals into the air. You might not find these chemicals on the label, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. Here are a few tips to make the air in your home more natural:
- Look for fragrance-free or naturally scented fresheners
- Stop using aerosol sprays
- Never smoke inside
- Let in the fresh air
- Add indoor houseplants
- Use sliced lemons and baking soda to get a clean-smelling kitchen
5. Let the breeze in
It’s a simple but often overlooked trick. Opening the window for even a few minutes every day can significantly improve the quality of the air in your home. The thing is, most heating or cooling systems don’t bring fresh air into the home, and this can compromise air quality – particularly for children.
Fresh air is also important to get rid of condensation, which can lead to mould growth and, in some instances, even damage the fabric of the building.