How to Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

two plants sitting on a window sill

It’s time to clear the air. We know air pollution is bad for the environment and has potentially life-threatening effects. But it’s not just the congestion in large cities — it’s in the air we breathe right at home.

Poor air quality can cause sneezing, wheezing, and coughing in addition to more serious health effects. If you find yourself with any of these symptoms, it may be time to check your home’s air quality.

 

Testing your home’s indoor air quality

The air inside your home may be more polluted than the air outside. To identify potential sources of indoor air pollution, you can either use an indoor air quality testing kit or hire a professional.

We recommend having a professional test your home for radon and carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful gases there are.

  • Radon
    • Radon is an odorless gas that we can’t detect on our own. It attaches to dust and particles floating in the air that we inhale into our lungs. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers and is responsible for over 20,000 deaths in the United States each year.
  • Carbon Monoxide
    • Carbon monoxide is an extremely dangerous odorless gas that generates from “incomplete combustion of fuel in household devices, such as stoves, furnaces, water heaters and fireplaces” (HowStuffWorks). The gas enters the lungs, and at certain levels of exposure, can result in death.

Both of these gases are odorless and invisible killers so it’s important to purchase detectors and have your home tested.

Mold testing is also very important for your home and should be performed by a qualified professional. Mold grows where moisture is present and it releases into the home’s living space. If your home has mold spores in the air, breathing them in can cause sneezing, runny nose, and sore throat.

 

Improving your home’s air quality

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are three basic strategies for improving indoor air quality:

  • Source Control
    • The most effective way to improve your home’s indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution.
      • Seal up asbestos
      • Decrease the amount of emission on gas stoves
      • Don’t smoke at home or allow others to do so
      • Test your home for radon, carbon monoxide, and mold
      • Reduce the amount of animal dander, pollens, and dust mites by cleaning regularly
  • Ventilation Improvements
    • Another effective way to improve indoor air quality is increasing the amount of outdoor air that enters. Not all heating and cooling systems bring fresh air indoors.
      • Open windows and doors
      • Get an energy-efficient heat recovery ventilator
      • Install exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms
      • Vent your clothes dryer
      • Prevent mold build-up by ventilating the attic and crawl spaces
  • Air Cleaners
    • These are designed to collect pollutants from your indoor air.
      • Place houseplants throughout your home
      • Have your air ducts professionally cleaned
      • Reduce your exposure to household chemicals such as organic chemicals (found in cleaning products) and methylene chloride (found in paint strippers and aerosol spray paints)
      • Don’t use synthetic fragrances (can be found in perfumes, hand soaps, air fresheners, laundry products, etc.)

 

Unsure about your home’s indoor air quality? Find your local BPG Inspector.

Air quality resources

50 simple ways to help reduce air pollution

Pollution facts & types of pollution

Health effects of air pollution

Tips to improve indoor air at home