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How to Improve the Air Quality of Your Home

Air puri­fiers, dehu­mid­i­fiers, humid­i­fiers and spe­cial fil­ters: which is right for you?

Dur­ing warmer weath­er, nat­ur­al ven­ti­la­tion from open win­dows and doors helps main­tain the air qual­i­ty indoors. As tem­per­a­tures drop, win­dows and doors are kept closed and we rely on fur­naces to stay warm. The result­ing lack of fresh air can have a neg­a­tive impact on the air qual­i­ty in your home.

As your home­’s air qual­i­ty is reduced, you may devel­op upper res­pi­ra­to­ry symp­toms such as cough­ing, headaches, eye irri­ta­tion, nasal con­ges­tion or a sore throat. If you have asth­ma, you may have more fre­quent or severe attacks. For­tu­nate­ly, there are ways you can improve the air qual­i­ty in your home, such as clean­ing air ducts, replac­ing the fil­ters in your fur­nace and using air puri­fiers, dehu­mid­i­fiers or humid­i­fiers. Board-cer­ti­fied aller­gy, asth­ma and immunol­o­gy spe­cial­ist, Dr. Andrey Leonov, shares tips on how to main­tain good air qual­i­ty in your home this winter. 

There are sev­er­al types of pol­lu­tants that can affect the air qual­i­ty in your home. Com­mon cul­prits include chem­i­cals from clean­ing prod­ucts, house­hold appli­ances includ­ing your fire­place, hot water heater, fur­nace, dry­er and stove, as well as mold, dust and dan­der from pets. These pol­lu­tants can accu­mu­late over time and affect your health. To main­tain the air qual­i­ty in your home, we recommend:

Keep­ing up with cleaning 

Chang­ing sheets and tow­els reg­u­lar­ly, as well as vac­u­um­ing (using a vac­u­um with a HEPA fil­ter) once a week, helps elim­i­nate pol­lu­tants that are brought into your home. 

Check­ing humid­i­ty levels 

Dehu­mid­i­fiers and humid­i­fiers can help main­tain the rec­om­mend­ed humid­i­ty lev­el with­in your home. Ide­al­ly, humid­i­ty lev­els should be between 30 to 50 per­cent. You can check the humid­i­ty lev­el in your home using a hygrom­e­ter, a gauge that looks like a ther­mome­ter that can be pur­chased at most hard­ware stores.

Low humid­i­ty caus­es the air in your home to become dry. This is more com­mon dur­ing cold weath­er because cold air can’t hold as much water vapor as warm air. With­out prop­er mois­ture in the air, your health (and home) can suf­fer. You may expe­ri­ence symp­toms includ­ing dry­ness of your eyes, nose, skin and throat. Low­er humid­i­ty lev­els can also impact your home, dam­ag­ing wood and dry­wall over time.

You can increase the humid­i­ty lev­el in your home by using a humid­i­fi­er. Humid­i­fiers uti­lize a fil­ter that absorbs water and a fan to cir­cu­late the mois­ture from the fil­ter into the air. They come in a vari­ety of types and sizes. Choos­ing the right humid­i­fi­er will depend on your per­son­al pref­er­ence as well as the square footage of your space. It is impor­tant to keep your humid­i­fi­er clean and to change the fil­ters regularly.

If you have ele­vat­ed mois­ture in your home, a dehu­mid­i­fi­er can help remove the excess mois­ture from the air. This is impor­tant because damp air can lead to mold and bac­te­ria growth. Expo­sure to high amounts of mold can cause symp­toms includ­ing cough­ing, eye and throat irri­ta­tion, skin rash­es and sneezing.

You should con­sid­er a dehu­mid­i­fi­er if you notice:

  • Signs of excess mois­ture (wet stains on your walls, ceil­ing or con­den­sa­tion on windows)
  • Stuffy rooms
  • A musty odor
  • Vis­i­ble mold

Set up your dehu­mid­i­fi­er in areas of your house prone to mois­ture, such as base­ments, bath­rooms and laun­dry areas.

Use nat­ur­al clean­ing products 

Many clean­ing prod­ucts con­tain chem­i­cals that can affect the air qual­i­ty in your home. Using prod­ucts that are non-tox­ic and con­tain nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents can reduce the amount of pol­lu­tants released into the air. 

Clean your air ducts 

Air is cir­cu­lat­ed through­out your home by your heat­ing and cool­ing sys­tem. Clean­ing your air ducts helps to remove dust, mold and oth­er aller­gens that have accu­mu­lat­ed. Fur­nace air fil­ters should also be changed every two to three months.

Puri­fy your air 

If you are aller­gic to envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tants like dust, mold and ani­mal dan­der, an air puri­fi­er can help trap and remove them from the air. Air puri­fiers uti­lize a fil­ter (or mul­ti­ple fil­ters) and fan that take in air, cap­ture pol­lu­tants and oth­er par­ti­cles, then release the fil­tered air back into your home. For the best results, place an air puri­fi­er in com­mon­ly used areas in your home. While air puri­fiers won’t total­ly elim­i­nate aller­gens, they can help reduce them. 

With­out the reg­u­lar flow of fresh air pro­vid­ed by open doors and win­dows, aller­gens can become trapped inside dur­ing the win­ter. When­ev­er pos­si­ble, even dur­ing cold­er months, try to open win­dows, even just for a few min­utes, to let fresh air in. Tak­ing steps to improve your home­’s air qual­i­ty can have a pos­i­tive impact on your health, includ­ing reduced aller­gy symp­toms and asth­ma attacks. Learn more about our Aller­gy, Asth­ma & Immunol­o­gy team or sched­ule an appoint­ment with them online. 

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