Across the globe, as many as nine in 10 people breathe harmful, polluted air. A primary culprit behind such dangerous air is particulate matter (PM). PM is hazardous because it consists of known solid and liquid pollutants.
Unfortunately, staying inside may not do much good, as indoor air quality (IAQ) can be just as bad. What’s even scarier is that some pollutants can reach much higher concentrations indoors.
So, what exactly are these indoor pollutants, and how do they impact your home’s IAQ? Why should you even care about maintaining the quality of the air inside your home?
We’ll answer those questions and more in this guide to healthy air quality, so be sure to read on.
Healthy Air Is Full of Life-Sustaining Oxygen
At rest, children and adults take an average of 17,000 to 30,000 breaths per day. However, that can go up to as much as 50,000 breaths if you’re active.
Each time you inhale, air flows into your lungs, the organ which then moves oxygen (O2) throughout your body. As this occurs, the waste gas carbon dioxide (CO2) exits your blood by going back to the lungs. The lungs then expel CO2 when you exhale, completing the process called gas exchange.
Oxygen is essential to life since all cells in the body need it for efficient energy production. Thus, without enough O2, you’ll have no energy. Depriving cells of O2 would also damage and kill them.
Poor Indoor Air Can Comprise of Too Much Carbon Dioxide
Conversely, having too much CO2 in the body can lead to a condition known as hypercapnia. This occurs when the body retains too much CO2. Over time, it can cause a deadly state known as respiratory acidosis.
One problem is that CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased by 47% since the Industrial Age. The current level of CO2 in the air is more than 400 parts per million (ppm), and experts say it’s going up even more.
Moreover, appliances, especially heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, create CO2. HVAC systems also bring CO2 into your home through mechanical ventilation.
Anything that uses gas or electrical energy also adds to your home’s indoor CO2 levels. Fire-emitting objects, such as gas stoves, furnaces, candles, and cigarettes, also produce CO2. Even the soil beneath your home is a source of this gas.
In any case, the greater the CO2 levels in your home, the poorer your IAQ and the more dangerous indoor air can get. The best way to avoid this is to use a CO2 monitor to ensure the CO2 level inside your home remains at 350 ppm.
Maintaining Good IAQ Can Help Prevent SBS Symptoms
SBS stands for sick building syndrome. It’s a situation wherein time spent indoors seems to cause short-term health effects. This link arises from the fact that once an ill person leaves the building, their health improves.
Some of the signs of SBS include chest tightness, dry cough, muscle aches, fevers, and chills. Skin dryness or itchiness, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue may also occur. Many people who experience SBS may also complain of irritated eyes, nose, and throat.
Studies suggest that poor indoor air quality is one of the possible factors behind SBS. Researchers also believe that IAQ problems may worsen SBS symptoms.
Either way, you wouldn’t want to live in a home that makes you sick, would you? That’s why it’s imperative to improve indoor air quality and keep it at healthy levels at all times. Otherwise, such signs of poor IAQ can sneak up on you at the worst possible time.
Healthy Indoor Air Helps You Breathe Easier
Particulate matter can irritate your lungs, resulting in impaired breathing. PM can also give rise to coughs, colds, and flu-like symptoms. What’s more, it can cause or worsen asthma, which could be debilitating or even deadly.
Fortunately, high-quality home air filters, especially HEPA ones, can trap PM. You can install these filters in your HVAC system, or you can also get a home air filtration system. Either way, these devices can help boost IAQ since they help to remove harmful air particles.
Clean Air is Allergen-Free Air
Allergens are substances that trigger allergic reactions, such as sneezing, wheezing, and rashes. Inside your home, they can take the form of dust, mold, fungi, pollen, and pet dander. Smoke, fumes, and chemicals from pesticides can also trigger such adverse reactions.
Those allergens often trigger allergic rhinitis, one of the most common allergies. In the US alone, an estimated 58 million people have it. However, they may also trigger nonallergic rhinitis, affecting an estimated 19 million Americans.
So, whether you have allergies or not, breathing in allergen-filled air can make you sick.
That’s another good reason to improve IAQ at home using filtration devices like air purifiers or air filters with high MERV ratings. Just don’t forget to replace or use a new air filter as soon as the old ones get clogged up with pollutants.
Less Polluted Air Can Help Cut Risks of Long-Term Diseases
Experts associate polluted air with chronic lung, heart, nerve, and cognitive disorders. There’s also growing evidence linking air pollutants with infections and inflammations. Studies have also found a connection between air pollution and cancer.
By contrast, breathing clean air is essential to good health. So much so that researchers even found that it can lengthen life expectancy. For example, less polluted air helped add nine months to the life expectancy of Europeans.
Time to Ramp up Your Home’s Indoor Air Quality
As you can see, there are so many critical reasons to maintain good indoor air quality at home. That’s why you should never let it dip to the point that it can make you ill.
So, as early as now, de-clutter and clean your home to help you get rid of indoor air pollutants. From there, consider getting better quality air filters and replacing old, dirty ones. Finally, add an air purifier to your most-used rooms to kick the IAQ up another notch.
Not sure where to find air filters? No need to look further. We have a filter specifically designed to improve indoor air quality. Say hello to the AIRx Health Filter.