It's that time of year again. Time to close the windows, crank up the heat and light a fire in the fireplace. It's also time to stock up on tissues and cough drops. Time for sniffles, sore throats, itchy eyes and more. We go through the same thing every year, but why does spending more time in our home make us feel this way? And, more importantly, what can we do about it?
The Link Between Allergies and Indoor Air Quality
Many of the these symptoms can be linked to a common cause: indoor air quality. The good news? Indoor air quality is something we can improve. To start with, there are 5 basic types of compounds that impact the air quality in our homes:
- Toxic compounds
- Infectious illness
- Allergens and particulates
- Microbial growth
- Safety gases
Symptoms of these compounds can include respiratory irritation, infection, congestion, sneezing, coughing, asthma flare-ups, illness, fatigue and much, much worse as concentration levels and exposure increase. During colder months, these compounds become trapped in the home, worsening our indoor air quality and affecting our health. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage these compounds and clean the air we breathe.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality and Reduce Allergens
Air filtration is the first line of defense in improving indoor air quality. Some airborne compounds like radon are extremely small and may pass through traditional filters freely, so consider an air filter that is rated to deal with these smaller compounds.
Crawl Space Encapsulation
Encapsulating your dirt crawl space isolates damp, exposed earth from your home using a durable, reinforced plastic liner. In addition to preventing mold growth, encapsulated crawl spaces can also provide a clean, dry space for extra storage.
Depressurization is the most effective solution for reducing radon levels in your home. This involves creating a pathway for radon gas to travel away from your living spaces, to be vented safely outside. The EPA recommends that homes with radon levels above 4 pCi/L be mitigated, and as the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers, all homes should have their radon level tested.
Lastly, a dehumidifier can help deal with water vapor and condensation in your basement, reducing musty smells and moisture that mold and dust mites thrive in. A dehumidifier extracts moisture from the surrounding area, and a quality dehumidifier can extract several gallons of moisture from the air each day. Knowing what causes poor indoor air quality and how to improve it is the first step in making your home a safer, more comfortable place to live. To learn more about improving your indoor air quality, check out the resources below.
EPA – Indoor Air Quality – Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home
Dr. Energy Saver - Duct Cleaning
Thrasher, Inc. - The Importance of Indoor Air Quality