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Your home probably has an expensive, sophisticated HVAC system to control temperature and moisture levels in this warm, humid climate. But what about your home’s indoor air quality? You may not know it, but the air quality in most modern houses is much worse than outdoor air, particularly since so many homes are built to be airtight. So what can you do to prevent indoor air pollution?

The fact is, the “V” in HVAC stands for ventilation, and experts consider ventilation to be as important to household comfort and health as heating and air conditioning are. Beyond opening windows, however, few of us know how to improve ventilation and how to prevent indoor air pollution.

Following are some pointers on how to remove and prevent indoor air pollution.

What Is Indoor Air Pollution?

The sources of indoor air pollution are varied.

  • Dust is the most prevalent pollutant. Pets and people bring in dust, and the more in your home, the more dust you have. Dust is composed of human or pet skin flakes or just the broken down particles of earth or waste found outside.
  • Mold, mildew or fungus are sources of indoor air pollution caused by overly moist conditions. Pollen, pet dander, decaying insect particles and dust mites are also common pollutants.
  • Volatile organic chemicals, or VOCs, may be given off by manufactured products such as carpets, textiles, paint, upholstered furniture, particle board appliances and the chemical products we use for cleaning and home projects.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide (given off by everything from candles to any appliance powered by internal combustion such as a furnace, water heater or gas stove) are other common pollutants.

Someone in your household may already have an allergy to one of these substances or may develop an intolerance in time. Those with respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema should not be exposed to high levels of these pollutants.

Getting Rid of Pollutants

Following are six steps you should take to get rid of and prevent pollution from any of the above-listed particulates.

  1. Improve ventilation. Install a bathroom or kitchen ventilation system where moisture and stale air are exhausted outside. Ask your HVAC provider about installing a whole-house ventilation system that exhausts stale air and brings in fresh air.
  2. Have your home air quality tested. That’s really the only way you can know if a pollutant such as radon, a naturally occurring gas that may be entering your home from the earth beneath it, is present.
  3. Reduce your use of chemicals in the home whenever possible. Study labels before you buy chemicals, and see if there’s a less harmful substance that will do the same job. Keep caps firmly on, and if possible, store away from the living space. Air out dry-cleaned clothing before you bring it in the house.
  4. Use better quality air filters. Cheap fiberglass filters will do nothing for your indoor air quality. Better quality pleated filters, with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 5 to 8, will not only protect the furnace from dirt, but it will also trap smaller particles that you don’t want to be circulated by your HVAC system into your air. Change the filter at least every three months or more often if there’s a lot of dust, pet dander and other pollutants in your home.
  5. Use house plants. A number of species of house plants are recommended for their ability to absorb harmful pollutants. Among the best for cleaning the air: English ivy, Gerbera daisy, peace lily and spider plant.
  6. Install an air cleaner. A whole-house air cleaner is a substantial investment, but it cleans the home’s entire air. Portable air cleaners must be moved from room to room.

Types of Air Cleaners

  • High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) is one type of mechanical filtration. HEPA air cleaning technology can’t be installed in most typical residential HVAC systems without substantial modification to the system because of diminished airflow.
  • Electrostatic air cleaners catch particles on a collecting plate through negatively charged particles.
  • Ultraviolet light germicidal irradiation (UVGI) destroys the DNA of mildew, mold and virus molecules.
  • Gas phase carbon-activated filters absorb smoke and VOCs.

For more information on how to prevent indoor air pollution, contact the experts at Aqua Plumbing and Air. We’ve provided quality service to the residents of Sarasota and Bradenton since 1974.