Breathe Cleaner Air Inside Your Home
Pollen, dust, second-hand smoke, allergens, mold and pet dander can all contribute to poor indoor air quality. So can gases like carbon monoxide or nitrogen dioxide, which are produced by improperly vented gas furnaces, space heaters, wood stoves, gas stoves, water heaters, dryers, fireplaces and other fuel-burning appliances. Paint, cleaning supplies, hair spray, pesticides, air fresheners and dry-cleaned clothing emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can also pollute indoor air. Indoor air pollutants can contribute to health problems such as sore eyes, burning in the nose and throat, headaches, fatigue, allergies, asthma, heart disease, cancer and other serious long-term conditions.
At Assured Comfort, we offer a variety of indoor air purification solutions for your Atlanta area home. That includes air cleaners, UV lights, dehumidifiers and humidifiers that improve indoor air quality.
UV lights are air purifiers that remove potentially harmful viruses, bacteria, mold and pet odors from indoor air. We have our own line of UV light products.
Dehumidifiers and Humidifiers
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers are useful appliances that help control humidity in a home. Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air during the summer months. Humidifiers add moisture into the air in the winter. Both are great for improving indoor air and alleviating symptoms like scratchy throats, nose bleeds, cracked hardwood floors and musty odors.
(MERV) is an industry standard rating system that allows consumers to compare air filters made by different manufacturers. We offer MERV 16, MERV 11 and MERV 8 air filters.
MERV 16 is generally considered the best carbon air filter for homes, and is ideal for families with severe allergies, asthma or other respiratory problems, as it captures nearly 100 percent of airborne dust, pollen and allergens.
We also offer photo catalytic oxidation (PCO) air cleaners. In a nutshell, PCO is a process that converts fine particles and toxic gasses into safer compounds. When PCO is used in an air purification system, it attacks and kills pollen, mold spores, mildew, bacteria and other airborne contaminants. PCO technology can be easily mounted into an existing air duct or HVAC system.
5 Facts You Might Not Know About Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor air quality is a major factor relating to your health that can be easily overlooked. Many people assume that the air inside their homes, schools and offices is cleaner than the outside air, but that’s not always the case. Here are five facts about indoor air that might surprise you:
- Most people spend about 90 percent of their lifetime indoors (at school, work, home, etc.).
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health.
- According to the World Health Organization, 4.3 million people a year die from exposure to household air pollution.
- According to the EPA, indoor air is far more polluted than outdoor air, with at least 2 to 5 times more contaminants and on occasion, as much as 100 times more.
- The EPA estimates that 6 out of 10 homes and buildings are “sick,” meaning they are hazardous to human health due to high levels of airborne pollutants.
While indoor air pollution can be a serious threat to your health, there are steps you can take to improve the air quality inside your home. Here are some suggestions:
- Switch from solid fuels such as biomass and coal, to a cleaner, more efficient source like natural gas.
- Maximize the ventilation in your home. Open windows when the weather permits, and keep doors open between rooms so air can circulate through your house.
- Use door mats at your home’s entrances to reduce the dirt, pesticides and other pollutants that get dragged into your house via shoes.
- Add houseplants to your indoor décor. Plants absorb toxins from the air at the same time they take in carbon monoxide.
- Install air filters and air cleaners in your house.
7 Ways to Purify Your Home’s Indoor Air
As we discussed in our last blog post, indoor air pollution can cause major health problems such as respiratory diseases (e.g. asthma), allergies and even lung cancer. If you are looking for ways to improve the air in your home, Assured Comfort is here to help. Use these seven tips around the house to ensure cleaner indoor air:
Install a carbon monoxide detector
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, carbon monoxide claims the lives of about 500 people each year and sickens several thousands more. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas produced by common household appliances such as gas stoves, gas water heaters, furnaces, charcoal grills and fireplaces. The gas is colorless, odorless and tasteless, making it impossible to detect without a sensor. Installing a carbon monoxide detector can not only save you a trip to the doctor, but it can save your life.
Minimize all forms of smoke
Cigarette smoke, whether inhaled directly or second-hand, is toxic. If anyone in your house smokes, he or she should take it outside. Fireplace smoke can also harm air quality inside your home. If you use a fireplace, opt for dried wood instead of pressure-treated, and have your fireplace inspected and cleaned annually by a qualified chimney professional.
Fix any leaks in your home
If you have any leaks in your house’s roof, walls or pipes, have the repairs made immediately. Leaks lead to increased moisture, which promote the growth of mold and mildew.
Groom your dogs and cats
Brush your dog or cat daily to remove loose fur and limit the amount of dander that becomes airborne. Ideally, brush your pet outdoors to avoid spreading the dander inside your home. You may also want to purchase a pet vacuum (available online and from pet stores) to suck off the loose hair—if you pet allows you to do this.
Use mattress and pillowcase covers
Encase mattresses, box springs and pillows in your home with protective covers to prevent dust mites, bed bugs and other allergens from penetrating your bedding. If you don’t have the protective covers, washing your bed sheets and pillowcases once a week in water of at least 130º F will kill any dust mites that may have penetrated your bedding.
Remove your shoes
Require everyone who enters your home to remove their shoes before coming inside and leave them at the door. This prevents dirt, pesticides and other outdoor contaminants from being tracked inside your house.
Install an air filter
High energy particulate filters, also known as HEPA filters, can remove over 99 percent of harmful airborne particles inside your house. Because they filter extremely small particles, they are particularly good at removing biological contaminants like pet dander and molds.
5 Common Indoor Air Pollutants
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks poor indoor air quality as one of the top five risks to public health. What makes it even more dangerous is the lack of public awareness. Many people assume the air in their homes is clean, but often it’s more polluted than outside air.
Here are five of the most common indoor air pollutants, along with their health risks and how you can protect yourself:
Radon is a colorless, radioactive gas which is naturally produced by the earth as uranium decays. It can enter homes and buildings through cracks in the foundation. Exposure to radon can damage your lungs and increase your risk for lung cancer. All homes, new and old, may have high radon levels, and the only way to know for sure is to test. There are DIY home tests available, or you can hire a professional service.
Secondhand cigarette smoke is a major indoor air pollutant with over 200 poisons and 60 cancer-causing chemicals. The American Lung Association estimates that secondhand smoke is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths to nonsmokers each year in the United States. Cigarette smoke can also cause asthma and lower respiratory tract infections in children. To avoid these diseases, do not allow smoking inside your home.
Found in rocks and soil, asbestos is a natural fiber with a high heat resistance. This is why, up until the 1970s, it was commonly used during construction for insulation and as a fire retardant. While intact, asbestos is not hazardous. However, damaging these fibers through common remodeling actions (such as cutting and sanding) can release particles into the air where they can potentially enter your lungs.
If your home contains products with asbestos and they are in good condition, it is safe to leave them. Just make sure to closely monitor them. If they are in poor condition, contact a trained professional to have them removed.
Lead is a natural metal which was common in household paint until it was banned for residential use in 1978 by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Lead paint is extremely toxic if ingested or inhaled. As it ages, it can chip or crumble into dust, which can become airborne. Exposure to lead dust can cause damage to your kidneys, blood cells and brain.
Mold is a fungus which can grow in areas with high moisture, either inside or outside. Inhaling mold spores can lead to a fever, coughing, sneezing, and irritation to the eyes and skin. To prevent mold in your home, it’s critical to control moisture. Use dehumidifiers in your basement and always dry spills immediately. If you have a mold problem in your home already, contact a professional service such as Assured Comfort to remove it.
Indoor Air Quality: Myths vs. Facts
Indoor air quality is a huge issue that has generally remained under-the-radar in the United States for the past decade. Read each of the four statements below and see if you can tell which ones are facts and which ones are myths.
1. Indoor air quality is only a problem in manufacturing plants.
Myth. Polluted air exists everywhere, not only in manufacturing facilities. Office buildings, elementary schools, and your own house are all susceptible to poor indoor air quality. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health.
2. Household air pollution causes more than 4 million deaths each year.
Fact. In its 2014 household air pollution fact sheet, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that every year, 4.3 million people die from illnesses attributed to indoor air pollution, including stroke, pneumonia, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
3. The quality of air in your home is always better than the air outdoors.
Myth. In fact, the quality of air inside your home can be up to 10 times worse than the air outside! In residential homes, the most common sources of air pollution are carbon monoxide, cigarette smoke, dust mites, pet dander and mold. These contaminants can cause headaches, runny noses, sneezing, coughing, asthma attacks and worse (read #2).
4. The vast majority of homes in America suffer from poor indoor air quality.
Fact. In 2001, the EPA tested the indoor air quality of homes across North America and released some shocking results. Nearly every home tested (96%!) had at least one indoor air quality problem. Most of these homes had high levels of dust and pollen, but many also had dangerous levels of harmful chemicals like radon gas.
Can Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality?
There are several steps you can take to improve the air quality inside your home. Removing the source of contamination is a great way to attack the problem at its foundation. You may also need to take steps like getting your air ducts cleaned, making your house smoke-free, installing a HEPA filter, taking your shoes off at the door, and using pillowcase covers.
Another way to improve your home’s air qualityis to buy houseplants. Many studies in recent decades have proven that household plants can purify the air around them, which includes absorbing toxic gasses like formaldehyde and benzene from the air. Some of the best plants for purifying the air include:
- English ivy
- Peace lily
- Snake plant
- Spider plant
- Golden pothos
While plants are surprisingly good at removing toxins from the air, they are much more effective when used as a supplement to other methods of air purification. Plants can’t do the job all on their own.
Fortunately for homeowners in the metro Atlanta area, Assured Comfort offers a variety of products and services to improve indoor air quality, including HEPA filter installations and HVAC duct cleaning. For more information about Assured Comfort’s air cleaning services or to schedule an appointment, please call (770) 872-4168.