Indoor air quality – how to monitor and improve air quality? – Wprost’s health

Before the pandemic, people spent about 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. In the past year, this indicator could only increase. “The quality of the air we breathe most of the time is critical to our overall well-being,” says Dr. Steven Haywood, respiratory therapist.

Air Purity and Health

The pandemic has shown how important it is to keep your home clean, including the air. Air quality can have a much bigger impact on your health than you might think. Minor effects of poor indoor air quality include headaches, nose and throat irritation and dizziness – but respiratory illnesses are more serious. The recipe is to take care of the air quality in your home by filtering it, venting it and providing an appropriate degree of hydration.

What’s in the air?

Air creates nitrogen (almost 79 percent) and oxygen (21 percent). The air in the apartment also contains carbon dioxide, which is exhaled by people. There are also other components, incl. concentrations of volatile organic compounds, dust mites, chemicals.

Optimal air for humans

To keep the air in your home clean and fresh, you should not only ventilate your home regularly, but also ensure good air quality in your home. It has a direct effect on well-being, moisturizes the nasal mucosa and thus prevents the penetration of viruses into the body. Good air quality above all means sufficient humidity.

Humans work best in the air, the humidity of which fluctuates between 40-60 percent. The humidity in the house should not be lower than 30 percent. As a result, not only does our respiratory system work properly – good humidity affects the functioning of the skin, the immune system, the nervous system and a good night’s sleep. It also improves your well-being.

Why is fresh air in the house important?

We spend most of our time in the apartment – experts estimate that it can be up to 90 percent. This data was compounded by the pandemic and remote working. Staying at home for such a long time means that the air must be completely safe so as not to worsen a person’s health condition.

Fresh air in the apartment affects not only our well-being, but also a good night’s sleep and proper regeneration of the body. It supports the processes that take place in the skin, ensures good hydration, proper functioning of the respiratory tract and the immune system.

Daily air changes at home allow you to improve the quality and eliminate factors that can cause allergic reactions. This can be done not only by airing the rooms, but also by opening the windows. This is especially important in the fall and winter when we decide less often to open the windows wide – unlocking is enough to ensure constant access to fresh air in the house.

What pollutes the air at home?

Air pollution in the home largely comes from outside. If you live in an area with a lot of coal-fired single-family homes, the air quality is probably not optimal. Therefore, regular airing can allow dirt to enter your home and degrade its quality.

Air pollution is also caused by excess carbon dioxide and water vapor released during cooking, laundry, laundry and other normal household activities.

How does polluted air affect us?

If the air we breathe has a high concentration of pollutants, it has a negative effect on our body. In particularly sensitive people, various symptoms may develop, including: conjunctival irritation, headache, dry throat, dry nose, frequent respiratory infections.

Dry airways become easier for bacteria and viruses to pass through more easily. This increases the risk of infections such as the common cold and sinusitis. During the heating period, dry air in the home can be particularly painful and contribute to more frequent illnesses. To avoid this, you should not only regularly ventilate the apartment, but also ensure good air humidification in the house. It is not worth turning on the radiators at maximum temperature. A much better solution is to control the heating and put wet towels on the radiators, which:

What is air purification?

To clean the air in the apartment, you can use an air purifier, a professional device that helps to remove suspended dust, toxic substances, as well as small dust particles, mites and mold. With such devices you can enjoy clean air and the improvement in air quality is clearly noticeable. This is especially important for pet owners who lose their hair, such as cats or dogs. Allergy sufferers, new parents who have babies in the house, as well as pets, can consider buying such a device as it can improve their quality of life.

What is air ionization in the apartment?

Ionization is also a factor that improves the air quality in the apartment. Air ionization is healthy, and negative ions can not only improve the indoor air quality, but also reduce the stress level and the proper functioning of the nervous system.

How to check the air quality at home?

To measure the air quality in your home, it is best to invest in an air quality sensor. It is a device that shows not only the quality of the air in the apartment, but also the composition of the air. These types of devices resemble weather stations and are not very expensive – we buy basic models for several dozen zlotys.

You can also check the air quality in your home with a regular cotton swab. We stick it to the vacuum cleaner tube with adhesive tape and turn on the device for a few minutes. If dirt remains on the swab, it means that the air in your home is not the best.

Poor indoor air quality – symptoms

Poor indoor air quality shows obvious symptoms. What?

  • dry throat
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • trouble sleeping
  • deterioration of sleep quality
  • dry nose

How do you take care of the air quality in the apartment?

To improve the air quality in the apartment, it is important to regularly ventilate the rooms. Air purifiers that absorb carbon dioxide and are good at dealing with indoor air pollutants can help. Regular vacuuming is also important, as it allows you to continuously remove pollution, dust, mites and mold. When buying a vacuum cleaner, it is worth paying attention to whether it contains a HEPA filter. This filter absorbs air pollutants, removes the presence of allergens, mites and other dust.

A good solution is also to increase the number of plants in the apartment. Green plants not only purify the air from pollutants, but also produce oxygen. When we invest in plants, we not only visually change the house, but also improve the air condition.

How to improve indoor air quality?

Place potted plants

Houseplants are not only a great way to brighten up any space and make it visually appealing, they can also help increase the amount of oxygen in your home and purify the air. They help filter contaminants from the home, including wood, cleaning products, furniture and carpets.

Remove sources of contamination

Do you have cleaning agents, paint or other chemicals at home? Move them to the garage and outside the living room. Put cleaning products in the bathroom in a separate cupboard or store in plastic bags.

Ventilate your house regularly

Opening the window for a few minutes can temporarily purify the air. However, try to air the house longer. During the day, for example, you can ventilate your bedroom and get a better sleeping comfort. Turn on the fan in the bathroom as often as possible. Airing does not have to be large, but regular.

Buy a humidifier

While buying a good humidifier is expensive, it will certainly pay off in the form of better air in your home. Such equipment determines the percentage of humidity and then, thanks to various modes of operation, increases this humidity to the expected level. It can also have an air purifying function, which is an added benefit. If you already have one, be sure to replace the filter.

Do not heat the apartment

You may like high temperatures in your home, but they are not good for air quality. Hot radiators dry them out, leaving you dizzy or waking up thirsty at night. Try turning the heating down a bit and see if you can still function comfortably. For health, it is recommended to sleep at lower temperatures.

Ad hoc hydration

If you have very dry air, you can hang a damp cloth over the radiator. Also check the freshly hung laundry where you sleep. Although it dries quickly, it will improve humidity for the time being.

Check the ventilation ducts

Whether you have an extractor hood or a microwave with a carbon filter in your kitchen, make sure the vents are working. This is especially important if you have gas cover as carbon monoxide can be emitted into the air when the burners are on. Clean the vents regularly to keep them free of dust.

Clean carpet

Carpets and rugs add coziness to the home, but they can also be a collection of dirt, pollen and animal hair. Make sure to clean them regularly to minimize contamination. We “breathe” all the dust in the apartment, so you need to get rid of it regularly. Also clean the soles of household slippers, as these also easily accumulate dirt.

Do you have other ideas for improving the air quality in your home? Share them in the comments!

Also read:
Living with a smoker, or how to protect yourself from secondhand smoke?

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