The “new normal” that forced people to move from working outside in all aspects of life to living and working inside our homes caused carbon emissions to drop by around 17 percent. The coronavirus quarantines put in place all over the world have created a new problem; indoor air is a new concern as people spend the majority of their time indoors, especially during the winter.
According to a recent EPA report, the average American person spends up to 90 percent of their time indoors due to stay-at-home orders. The result is that indoor air pollutants’ concentration is often between two and five times higher than the concentration found outdoors, leading to potentially significantly lower air quality for you and your family. As the winter approaches and people continue to shelter indoors as a result of Covid-19, the air quality of living spaces is one thing that may not be at the top of most people’s minds.
Thoughtful Of Inhaled Triggers
Allergist Dr. Neeta Ogden, a specialist in allergy, asthma, and immunology, says she doesn’t believe enough people recognize how much their indoor air quality is tied to their respiratory health. According to her, people who have common conditions like seasonal allergies and asthma, who have a reactive airway, need to be especially aware of indoor air quality. She also believes that anyone fighting off a common cold should consider the air quality in their home. She says:
As an allergist, I’m concerned about how people maintain their home environment, keeping things relatively clean in the sense of dust and dust mites around their bedroom and their home in general […] I’m also focused on being thoughtful of inhaled triggers from smoke from fires and wood-burning fireplace, about candles, especially during the holidays.”
According to Dr. Reza Ronaghi, a pulmonologist at UCLA Health, the current realities of COVID-19 mean we have to keep multiple things in mind at once. This means adhering to protective measures against the coronavirus while also keeping one’s respiratory health in check while spending a significant amount of time indoors. Ronaghi opines:
“You want to make sure it is a well-ventilated [area] and to make sure you still social distance even if indoors. Masks should be worn even if you are indoors and close to others […]. Remember that there are different causes of allergies. Make sure there is no dust or allergens inside. Remember to use your inhalers still if you have allergies.”
DIY Tips for Improving Indoor Air Quality
Several DIY actions can assist you in keeping your Home clean and, therefore, minimizing your risk of exposure to unnecessary health risks, which include:
a. Reduce Incoming Toxins
The first thing you want to do is to reduce the number of toxins you bring home. You want to consider leaving your shoes at the door besides keeping a hand sanitizer at the door for use when you get inside.
b. Clean Home regularly
Clean your Home daily, weekly, and monthly to keep it germ-free. You may also want to clean surfaces regularly, depending on what you do. Use an effective cleaner and disinfectant for safe and effective deep cleaning.
c. Air out the House
Open your doors and windows to expel stale air and let fresh air come in as much as the weather allows. This is a simple eco-friendly way to warm up or cool down your Home. You can open a few windows and doors when it’s warm and when it gets dark to cool down the Home.
d. Seal doors and windows
Take the time to check your windows and doors for any places where air could be leaking in or out. If you find any such places, seal them up. You should look for any moisture damage or mold as well. Clean the area thoroughly and, if needed, you can use these natural black mold remedies.
e. Replace the Filter in your HVAC Unit
If you use an HVAC unit at home, you must replace your filter regularly. A clean filter can only attract so much dust, dirt, and dander. If you continue to use your HVAC after the filter should have been replaced, you are spewing allergens back into the house.
f. Introduce Some Indoor Plants
Plants are a simple, natural way to green up your home and bring some of the outdoors in. Certain plants have been shown to have excellent air purifying qualities. These air purifying plants are precisely what your Home needs right now.
g. Replace Your Chemical Air Freshener with a Diffuser
In addition to cooking and baking, which can make your house smell great, a diffuser with essential oils is an effective way to freshen your Home without using chemical sprays and aerosols. Pick your favorite essential oil, add it to the diffuser, and let it go to work.
Hierarchy of Surfaces to Clean
When it comes to improving air quality in your Home, primary cleaning considerations can make all of the difference. The CDC recommends many over the counter and commercial cleaners. However, it should be realized that many of these cleaners can be moderately toxic and that care should be taken following the directions on the labels. “Green cleaners” are generally acceptable in home settings, and essential soap is considered to be as effective in removing most bacteria and viruses. The EPA has a Safer Choice label on products as well.
It is widely accepted that diluting the air in any manner should be considered when using cleaning products: open your windows and doors or introduce more outside air. Much has been written about how to clean and disinfect surfaces beyond this article. Here is a basic outline:
- There is a hierarchy of surfaces to clean, pay close attention to traffic patterns in our homes – those being built and those already lived in.
- High touch surfaces should be cleaned with an approved cleaner or diluted bleach solution, multiple times a day if possible.
- Basic CDC guidelines state that gloves and an N-95 mask, or any mask under the N95 shortage, should be worn during cleaning.
The key is to take the necessary steps to remove harmful toxins and chemicals likely to pollute the air. This will allow you to breathe easier, reduce indoor pollution, and improve indoor air quality. It can also have a positive impact on your overall health and well-being!