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What are the Best Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality?

Article Details
  • Written By: Anna Brooks
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Indoor air quality refers to how clean and healthy the air inside a building or other indoor structure is for its inhabitants. The main causes of indoor pollution are things that emit gases or particles inside of a building, such as gas stoves, tobacco products, and deteriorating insulation containing asbestos. If there isn’t enough ventilation to bring in outdoor air and expel indoor air, the level of pollutants inside the building can reach harmful levels. There are several things you do to improve indoor air quality, including preventing pollution, adding ventilation, and cleaning the air.

To improve indoor air quality in a home or office, the best place to start is at the source of any possible pollution. By reducing or eliminating emissions from sources such as gas stoves, potential pollutants can be stopped before they get into the air. This can be accomplished by sealing off or removing deteriorating asbestos from old pipes, for example.

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If a homeowner can increase the amount of fresh outdoor air coming indoors and the amount of indoor air flowing back out, he or she can significantly decrease the number of air pollutants that linger inside. Unfortunately, many modern buildings are being built to be airtight to conserve energy. Opening windows and doors when weather permits, operating ceiling fans or vents, and setting air conditioning units to have vent controls open can all help increase circulation. Remember, cleaning air vents and changing filters will ensure the most efficiency out of your appliances and fans. People who work in an office building in which windows do not open, should make sure that a good venting system has been put in place.

Homeowners can buy various units for the home to help improve indoor air quality, but not all units are equally effective. Consumers should do research before spending money on any new systems. Air cleaners are also typically designed to eliminate particle-based pollutants, so they are not usually as effective on gaseous ones.

There is some belief that toxin-consuming plants, such as mums, philodendron, bamboo palms, and English ivy, can remove certain toxins from the air. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is currently "no evidence ... that a reasonable number of houseplants remove significant quantities of pollutants in homes and offices." The EPA also warns that over-watering household plants can actually increase the number of microorganisms that affect people with allergies.

There are many other small steps you can take to improve indoor air quality, some of which may seem like common sense. Homeowners should remember to store harmful chemicals outside of the home. Open windows and increase ventilation any time the chemical level in the air is increased, such as when painting. Homeowners should vacuum and clean often to remove allergens, especially if they own pets or someone in the household is particularly susceptible to air-borne allergens.

Smokers should light up outside. Water from dehumidifiers should be emptied regularly, and air conditioning vents should be cleaned often. Water-damaged carpets or furniture should be dried or removed from a house immediately before mold can set in. Most importantly, homeowners should be aware of the quality of the indoor air. If there is a concern, air should be tested.

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