Air pollution is a serious issue that can have negative effects on your health. Studies have shown that consistent exposure to low air quality can lead to issues such as headaches, asthma, and lung disease. In addition, according to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that each year approximately 3.8 million people die prematurely from complications relating to exposure to household air pollution.[i]
Depending on where you live, such issues might be especially prevalent, as in some regions in the developing world, the combination of rapid urbanization and lack of sustainable energy sources has lead air pollution to reach crisis levels. Given these serious consequences, it is important to take steps to ensure the quality of air in your home.
Pictured: Many growing cities in the developing world such as Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (left) have high levels of air pollution due to a combination of rapid urbanization and a lack of sustainable energy sources.
Step 1: Measure Your Air Quality
The first step in addressing the potential problem of air pollution in your home is to test the current state of your home air quality, which will allow you get a sense of what issues might currently exist, and what actions can be taken to fix them. Many different methods to measure home air quality exist, and one cheap option is to use a do-it-yourself indoor air quality (IAQ) testing kit, which can provide a basic overview of your current air quality levels. Alternatively, for more thorough testing, you might also consider hiring a professional air quality testing service, which although more expensive will also be able to give you a more comprehensive overview of your current air quality levels. Finally, if air pollution is a serious recurring issue in your home, it might make sense to consider purchasing and installing air quality sensors, which will allow you to regularly check for potential air pollution in your home.
Step 2: Remove Sources of Air Pollution
Household air pollution can come from various sources, and the most straightforward way to improve your home air quality is to neutralize potential sources of pollution. Some of the most common household sources of air pollution include carpets, clothes, and air conditioners. These surfaces have the tendency accumulate dust mites, pollens, and other potentially harmful residues that will contaminate your home air. To reduce the potentially harmful effects of pollution from these sources, they should ideally be cleaned about once a week and you might also consider purchasing a high-powered vacuum cleaner to remove dust from your furniture very thoroughly. Overall, keeping a clean home environment will reduce household air pollution and improve your home air quality.
Step 3: Improve Ventilation
Another action you can take that will significantly improve your home air quality is make sure that your home has good airflow and ventilation. Ventilation removes air pollution that comes from household sources such as stoves and furnaces. A quick way to improve home air ventilation might be to simply open doors and windows and allow air to flow in an out of your house. However, depending on what time of year it is and your location, this might not be practical due to temperature and outside air quality. For example, during winters in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, temperatures commonly reach -40°C degrees at night while air pollution levels are simultaneously 100 times what is considered safe levels[ii]. In such situations, another way to improve the ventilation in your home might be to install a home ventilator system. These systems will allow air to circulate in and out of your house, while also working to filter out outside pollutants and minimize exposure to the elements.
Caption: Many modern apartments complexes like the Olympic Residence (above) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia have comprehensive pre-installed ventilation systems to ensure good air quality.
Step 4: Invest in Air Purifiers
One final step you can take to improve your home air quality is to install air purifiers. Air purifiers work by absorbing potentially harmful particles and can come in many different forms. One type of air purifier to consider is a HEPA air purifier. These purifiers run on electricity and meet regulatory standards regarding both air purification and efficient energy usage. Alternatively, a cheaper option might be to use less conventional purification systems such as beeswax candles, activated charcoal, and certain houseplants. These alternative purification systems are all effective at removing specific contaminants in the air, and you should choose the purification system you use based off what contaminants in your home need to be removed.
Air quality is an important but oftentimes overlooked aspect of home maintenance. Air pollution can have a very negative effect on your health, but fortunately there are steps you can take to ensure that your home has good air quality. When looking for a living space, try and look for a more modern apartment block that has amenities that will help maintain good air quality. By living in these areas, you can save yourself time and money while also enjoying clean air. In addition, if necessary you can further improve your home air quality by keeping your home clean and installing your own air ventilation and purification systems. Ultimately, by following the simple steps described in this article maintaining good home air quality should be both a straightforward and achievable process.
[i] World Health Organization (2018, May 8). Household Air Pollution and Health. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/household-air-pollution-and-health
[ii] UNICEF (2018, May 12) Mongolia’s Air Pollution Causes Child Health Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/media/media_102683.html