Posted on Jan 26, 2017, 6 a.m.
Breathing in polluted air introduces toxins into every cell of the body within moments.
Indoor air in the United States can be up to 100 times more polluted than the air outdoors. Understanding air pollution and its effects on the human body is the first step to making choices that will help people lead healthier lives. Imagine living in a home filled with clean air, so much so that it reduces some of the recurring symptoms related to air pollution:
- Itchy nose or skin
- Watery or dry eyes
Here's one indisputable fact:
Human beings need oxygen to live. Oxygen is what keeps all of our organs functioning so the quality of what we breath is important. Eleven thousand liters of air a day circulate through the average human body. It stands to reason that cleaner air is healthier than polluted air simply because everything that's in the air ends up in our bodies as we breathe.
Air pollution is defined as a mixture of solid particles and gases in the air.
Some of those particles are harmful to humans. Air pollution is measured by an Air Quality Index or AQI, a scale ranging from 0 to 500. Higher AQI numbers indicate higher levels of "stuff" in the air or poorer air quality. An AQI rating of 50 means the air quality is good while numbers over 300 are considered a problem.
One of the biggest problems is that air pollution is literally everywhere. Many people mistakenly believe that their homes are a safe haven from polluted air. They think that it protects them from all the smoke, smog, dust and dirt that fly around outside. To some extent that's true, but what many people don’t consider is the amount of air pollution generated inside our homes.
Commonly found pollutants in home include:
- Cleaning products
- Mold and dampness
- Air fresheners
- Perfume and deodorants
- Gas stoves, ovens, and dryers
- Candles and fireplaces
- Burnt food
- Cooking with Non-stick cookware
- Pet dander
- Insect control chemicals
- Tobacco Products
- Termites, cockroaches, and dust mites
- Asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead
- Volatile organic chemicals from house paint, carpeting, and furniture
- Bacteria and viruses
So how do you protect yourself from the harmful air pollution in your home? Helpful hints include:
- No smoking…ever.
- Install and use adequate venting systems and fans.
- Store paints, solvents, and chemicals outside and away from the house. Helpful hints include:
- Lower the humidity to 50% or less.
- Groom pets often.
- Change the filters in the furnace and other appliances as recommended.
- Clean up any mold quickly.
- Buy and use "green" products whenever possible.
Perhaps one of the best ways to protect a home from indoor air pollution is to buy an air filtration system, but they come in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and price points so it helps to know a few facts before choosing one. There are basically three different types of air filtration systems available for home use.
HEPA is the first word in air filtration systems; it stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. HEPA filters and Ultra HEPA filters are the front line of air pollution defense in a home.
- HEPA filters capture 99%+ of the polluting particles like pollen, mold, pet dander, and bacteria.
- Ultra HEPA filters are even more effective, removing nearly 100%.
- These types of filters only filter particles, they do not filter gas or chemical pollution.
Charcoal & Carbon Filters
- Charcoal and carbon filters are designed to remove other forms of air pollution, namely gasses, chemicals, VOCs, and aerosols.
- Charcoal or carbon filters are often added to HEPA filters to add to the overall effectiveness of a system.
- These filters do nothing when used alone, to filter particles.
Ionic or electric filtration systems send positive or negative ions into the air and then use the opposite charge to attract particles to "collection plates" which trap the pollution.
- Electronic filters are quiet.
- Collection plates are easily cleaned for repeated use.
- These filters are generally less efficient at removing both particles and gasses and chemicals.
Finding the right filtration system is challenging, but the health benefits certainly justify the time and cost. Ideally, a filtration system will remove a high level of both particles and gasses. Technology infiltration systems are constantly improving; making is easier to live in a home that’s filled with clean, healthy air.