Home is one place that everyone longs to go back to after a whole day of work.

We tackle various agents all day long, like stress, weariness, pollutants etc. And our homes are supposed to be our place to relax and recoup.

But, then such a thing looks seemingly impossible to achieve if the whole atmosphere at home itself is ruined by the presence of various pollutants.

Why Home Air Quality Matters?

A fact that we are not very well aware of is that the so-called “clean air” at home too, is filled with various kinds of pollutants.

In the long run, the presence of pollutants in our immediate surroundings could severely impact our health. There are different sizes of particles present in the air, many of them are not even visible to our naked eye.

Indoor air pollution is often called as the silent killer as people are often not aware of and concerned about it as they are with outdoor pollution. But given we spend a large chunk of our time at home, this is a very serious issue.

Ways To Improve Air Quality at Your Home

Air purification techniques play a vital role here.

Air purification, as the name suggests, helps to better the quality of air that is around us.

This is achieved by eliminating the harmful agents from the air or at the very least, blocking their entry into one’s house. There are various techniques or practices that could be followed to improve the quality of air at home.

We can do this in two steps –

  • Prevention of pollutants to enter the house
  • Elimination / removal for existing pollutants

Step -1: Don’t Bring Pollutants Inside Your House!

The first being practices one could follow to stop the pollutants from entering into their household and the second category being the steps one could take to tackle and eliminate the pollutants that are present in the home atmosphere.

Tackling the pollutants at the doorstep can be done by following these simple rules –

1. Leave Footwear Outside the House

1. footwear outside

Footwear travels as much as we do. It goes around the globe with us. On one hand, while we are busy collecting memories, our footwear is busy collecting dust.

We tend to forget that we bring home all this dust while we wear the same footwear indoors.

Hence, it is advisable to leave footwear outside the door before entering our homes. Such a habit would reduce our exposure to dust and other pollutant particles by a multifold.

2. No Smoking

Avoid smoking at home/ Smoking has serious health implications, not only for the smokers but for passive smokers too.

Anything that one inhales, goes into the lungs. Our lungs are not designed to function like this.  A simple way is to go out of the house and smoke, not inside.

3. Regular Cleanup of Bathrooms

Bathrooms and toilets are locations in a house with the highest moisture content.

Such levels of moisture give opportunities to molds and fungi to grow. These later grow into allergens and spread different kinds of diseases.

Hence, regularly cleaning up the bathroom and ensuring that no molds are left to multiply and spread, is one good way to eliminate the atmospheric allergens. Keeping your bathrooms dry too would help discourage the growth of molds and fungi.

4. Using the Right kind of Paints

VOCs are the solvents which are released by the paint as it dries. They are known to cause several health issues including headaches and dizziness.

These VOCs react with Oxides of Nitrogen in the air, in the presence of sunlight, to form Ozone.

When exposed to a large amount of Ozone for a long duration causes health problems especially to children and elderly.

Hence, choose your paints wisely.

Step -2: Regular Removal Existing Pollutants

Some easy to follow ways to remove existing air pollutants

1. Vacuum Cleaning

Vacuum cleaning is a better habit to add to the cleaning routine over the traditional practice of using a broom to sweep away the dust. This is a particularly prevalent practice in India.

The issue with broom usage is that it does not completely eliminate the possibility of recombination of dust with the air. While a vacuum cleaner, on the other hand, sucks up all the dust and stores it in an internal chamber, which can be later emptied out.

Of course one cannot do vacuum cleaning daily but even once a week would also help reduce overall dust levels.

Also, in case a vacuum cleaner is a little too heavy on the pocket, another way to deal with dust after using a broom is to mop the place up. This would ensure that all the leftover dust is cleaned out of the place.

2. Always Use an Exhaust Fan in the Kitchen

There is a lot of smoke that is released in the process of cooking, which also contaminates the atmosphere if it is not let out. Hence, a kitchen exhaust system would do wonders to eliminate this issue.

Alongside, keeping the kitchen clean by regularly cleaning the sinks and other areas where there is a possible moisture accumulation could stop the growth of allergens.

3. Regular Cleaning of the House

Despite us being very cautious too, dust shall find its way into our household. If not much, some of it definitely gets in.

The extra effort that could be added to the list of chores could be regular dusting and cleaning of the house. This would go a long way in ensuring that there is no accumulation of dust at a place.

Such a step is required to ensure that there is no way that dust is allowed to recombine with the air and be circulated again in our household.

4. Indoor Plants

It is a well-known fact that green plants use up all the carbon dioxide present around them for the process of photosynthesis, in the presence of sunlight.

The end products of this process, the one that matters the most to us, in this scenario, is the amount of oxygen given out into the atmosphere.

Plants like the Bamboo Palm, Spider Plant, Dragon Tree, Mass Cane (or Corn Plant) etc. could be on the shortlist for indoor plants. These plants possess the ability to absorb toxins like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene from the air.

Having indoor plants is the easiest step one could take towards improving the air quality at home. There are many potted plants that could help serve this purpose and also look aesthetically pleasing.

5. Ensure Good Ventilation

Always remember that nothing that has been static for too long is good for us. The same applies for air too.

There needs to be continuous air flow in a room assisted by proper inlets and outlets. In the older days, houses built in India, would have ventilators near the ceiling of the room.

It was a very good practice that allowed proper airflow into houses, pushing the stale air out and bringing fresh air in. These ventilators also served the purpose of letting all the hot air out and cool air come and settle down.

We need to keep doors/windows open for some time daily for outside air to mix with the indoor air. This is especially true if your whole house is Air Conditioned and thus you keep it close all the time with no ventilation possibility.

6. Clean Curtains, Carpets, and Sofas

Carpets and curtains can hold dust particles for long. Carpets especially are the place where dust particles present in the air, fall down and settle on.

Unclean carpets would only contribute to recombining the dust particles with fresh air when they are dusted or disturbed. This would go ahead and cancel the effects of ventilation in a household.

Hence, a good carpet cleaning routine if followed would help to improve the air quality at home. Use of vacuum cleaners once in 3-5 days would be ideal to keep the carpets, sofa covers, curtains etc. free from accumulated dust. All the cloth covers should also be frequently replaced with clean substitutes.

7. Use of Natural Air Fresheners over Artificial Ones

Many households are plagued with issues pertaining to bad odor.

There might be innumerable reasons behind the same and looking into each would be one tedious task that the people of the household should look into. But, a common solution for all would be to use essential oils over room freshening sprays.

Essential oils are concentrated oils that have a strong aroma given out by its volatile components. They are made from plant extracts.

These oils can be called upon to play the role of room fresheners, thus, enriching the whole experience of staying indoors.

Limitations of These Methods

The above methods do help bring down the air pollution level but they cannot eliminate it.

Also, some of them are difficult to execute, such as frequent vacuum cleaning.

Further, the solutions that have been explored do not cover the smaller dust particles and the biological agents that also act as pollutants in the air at home.

The other pollutants that are not taken care of by these simple practices include Carbon monoxide, Lead, naturally occurring Radon gas, tobacco smoke, fungi and mold that causes allergic symptoms etc. Such pollutants can cause a lot of irreversible issues to  health if left unattended.

One effective way to do this is to use an air purifier.

In general, the average efficiency of any air purifier taken to compare would be above 90%, which can be interpreted as them purifying 90% of the air that enters the filter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q – I live in an area that is surrounded by heavy traffic all day long. Keeping my doors and windows open would only bring in the polluted air. How do I ensure ventilation?

A – You could keep your doors and windows open early in the morning, before the daily traffic sets in. The fresh air in the early hours could better the quality of air in your house. Also, you could use carbon filters to keep the dust and pollutants out during the day.

Q – Do all paints give out toxic fumes?

Not all paints give out toxic fumes. It is mainly those paints that use oil as a solvent, which gives out toxic fumes. This happens when the paint is left to dry and all the volatile compounds, as their name indicates, are diffused into the air. These compounds give you the characteristic fume smell.

Summary

We cannot take health for granted especially in the current scenario where we are surrounded by pollutants.

There are various ways we can decrease the levels of air pollution at our house. These include working to stop the entry to eliminate them as much as possible.

We listed some easy to do so. There can be other ways too. In case these become difficult to follow, its always a good idea to invest in a good quality air purifier to do the job. It will be a worthwhile investment.

Team AirHealth.in
Author

This article is written by AirHealth's team which consists of writers with degrees in medicine, biotechnology, pharmacy, nutrition, engineering, etc. The work is peer-reviewed by the core team or by our Advisors before it is published. Check out more about us in "Our Team" section.

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