IAQ "What It Is and Why You Need to Know”
We all know to be healthy we should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise and get the proper amount of sleep. Many of us are meticulous about our diets and exercise routines. We do everything in our power to maintain our health, yet we are not taking simple steps to protect the air we breathe in our own homes. You probably know that the air outside can be very unhealthy and polluted, but you may not be aware that the indoor air quality (IAQ) of your homes can be 2 to 5 times worse. In fact, indoor air quality(IAQ) is rated by the EPA as one of the top five environmental hazards.
What is In the Air Inside Your Home?
Let’s face it even if you are only home when you sleep, you are still probably spending a third of your life in your home. When we talk about the air we breathe, often we are talking about particles so small we can’t even see them. As you know just because you cannot see something, doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Bacteria, dust, virus, pet dander and mold spores are just a few of the invisible intruders floating around in the air in our homes. How small are they? I am talking microns. What is a micron? It is a unit of length equal to one millionth of a meter. A human hair is about 40 to 50 micron.The limit of what we can see is about 10 to 40 microns.
Just as dangerous if not more are the Volatile Organic Compounds(VOC's)
These are gases emitted from common household products cleaner paints and toxic chemicals in our homes.
“Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands.
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing and hobby products. Fuels are made up of organic chemicals. All of these products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and, to some degree, when they are stored.
Get Started Protecting Your Homes Air
1. Control the Source "Get Rid of All These Toxic Chemicals and Go with Organic Cleaners
Remove unused paints, cleaners and other house hold supplies. Consider switching to organic or green solutions. For instance, boric acid is one of several organic pest control solution. Below is a list of common household supplies to consider removing or replacing.
Sources of VOCs
- Household products, including:
- paints, paint strippers and other solvents
- wood preservatives
- aerosol sprays
- cleansers and disinfectants
- moth repellents and air fresheners
- stored fuels and automotive products
- hobby supplies
- dry-cleaned clothing
Simple Step You Can Take to Start Improving Your IAQ
Keep the house clean. Vacuum and Dust, wash the sheets regularly and the family pet. Other items that may contain VOC's are carpet(formaldehyde) and furniture. Use mats at all the door in your home and consider removing your shoes at the door. Many of the particles in our home are tracked in on our shoes.
Better technology and building materials are great for keeping our homes warm in winter and cool in summer, but it doesn’t allow fresh air in, and we have trapped the contaminants in our homes. Wall to wall carpeting can contain toxins like formaldehyde. It can also trap dirt, pollen, dust, dust-mites and lead.Consider hardwood floors or tile, and try to use furniture made of real wood.
2. Improve Ventilation -Get the Air Moving
Let the Fresh Air in Your Home. This is a preference, either control the sources or ventilate. According to the American Lung Association ventilation in your home is essential. If you want to save on the utility bill,depending on your climate, focus on the removing the sources of particulates and VOC's. Especially when cleaning or cooking, use local bathroom or kitchen fans that send exhaust outdoors remove contaminants directly from the room where the fan is located and also increase the outdoor air ventilation.
Newer homes are starting to use mechanical systems that bring outdoor air into the home. These designs can include energy-efficient heat recovery ventilators (also known as air-to-air heat exchangers).
3. Filter Your Air "Who is Replacing the Air Filter in Your Home"?
When combined with proper cleaning technique mentioned earlier the right air filter can make a dramatic improvement in the indoor air quality of your home. The problem is many people are only using the lowest quality filters available. Often its not even your choice, the filters is replaced by the AC repair company maintaining your system. In many instances they use a cheap filter that does not even have a MERV rating.
What is MERV and How Can You Use it to Protect the Air Your Family Breathes?
The easiest way to evaluate an air filter is by its MERV rating. The Simplified explanation is the higher the MERV Rating the more efficient the filter gets at removing smaller and smaller particle from the air. Some filters are so poor they do not even have a MERV rating.
Flat or panel air filters with a MERV of 1 to 4 are commonly used in residential furnaces and air conditioners. For the most part, such filters are used to protect the HVAC equipment from the buildup of unwanted materials on the surfaces such as fan motors and heating or cooling coils, and not for direct indoor air quality reasons.
Medium efficiency filters with a MERV of 5 to 13 are reasonably efficient at removing small to large airborne particles. Filters with a MERV between 7 and 13 are likely to be nearly as effective as true HEPA filters at controlling most airborne indoor particles.
MERV 1-6 filters are primarily for protecting your HVAC equipment from getting damages by the largest particle.
The EPA states a pleated or extended air filters with a MERV rating from 7 to 13 can be nearly as effective at a HEPA filter at removing small and large particles. This gives maximum protection not only to your equipment but also to your air quality.
Find Your Air Filter Size
When it come to protecting your family homes air quality you should use the highest rated MERV your HVAC system will allow. For most new homes, the best choice is usually MERV 13 rated air filter.
I hope these 3 solutions controlling the sources of contaminates, ventilating, and filtering the air in your home with the proper MERV rated air filter help you to make a safer home for your family.
If you have addition ideas about detoxifying and making your home safer, I would love to hear them. Please leave a comment.
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