3 Common Household Air Pollutants

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by Joan Martin

When discussing the causes and effects of air pollution, people automatically think of car emissions, the environment, ozone depletion, the greenhouse effect, and so on. But it is not limited to the external environment. In fact, a recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency placed indoor air pollution among the top five leading environmental health risks.

From gas cooking stoves and cigarette smoke, to pollen and dander, many homes are filled with toxic materials that can adversely affect the health and well-being of the occupants. Knowing the different airborne particles that pose health risks and managing their presence in your home can help your loved ones breathe easy.

The most common household air pollutants include:

  1. Biological contaminants

    Dust mites, cockroaches, cat saliva, animal dander, bacteria, mould, mildew, and pollen cause everything from lethargy to allergic rhinitis to asthma, affecting even those who are not sensitive to allergens.

    These pollutants thrive in moist and nutritious environments. They can be controlled by repairing leaking pipes, removing water-damaged materials, eliminating any damp environment, and keeping the indoor relative humidity at 30 to 40 percent.

  2. Volatile Organic Compounds

    Many household items such as cleaning products, varnishes, paints, paint removers, adhesives, glues, building materials, printers, and copiers contain VOCs. VOCs are toxic gases, which are emitted every time you use these items, resulting in both short and long-term effects ranging from headaches, nausea, and dizziness, to organ failure and even cancer.

    If using products that contain VOCs, it is important that you obey the cautions. Keep your home well ventilated and dispose old products correctly.

  3. Ozone

    Climate change, increased sunlight, and warmer temperatures have triggered the formation of ozone at the ground-level. While ozone helps to regulate temperatures, this odourless gas is also known to cause respiratory problems. If can also get inside your home through open doors and windows where it mixes with emissions from household sources, causing harmful secondary reactions.

    Find out the Air Quality Index (the level of ozone and other major pollutants) in your area, so you can take measures to reduce the impact. You can reduce the risk by eliminating or reducing sources of VOC in your home that may react with the ozone.

Final note

Other known indoor air pollutants include radon, asbestos, smoke, lead, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and pesticides/insecticides.

Researchers claim that indoor air can be 2 – 10 times more toxic than outdoor air. Poor air quality contributes to about 2 million premature deaths each year. Fortunately, you can improve indoor air quality by removing pollutants, air-cleaning, and increasing ventilation.

How To Be Economically And Environmentally Responsible When Cooling Your Home

Posted on: October 2nd, 2017 by Joan Martin No Comments

The average household spends about $1,000 a year on heating and cooling costs. For most of the year, a substantial amount of your monthly energy bills goes towards temperature regulation. If you want to reduce your cooling costs, you need to think of unconventional ways to keep your home cool without relying on the HVAC system.

To keep your home cool, you need to keep the sun out and keep the interior air cool or conditioned. Here are some ways to achieve this:

1. Adding sealing and insulation
Consider installing foam, blown cellulose, or some other kind of dense insulation in the attic to act as a thermal barrier. Also check your doors, windows, and electrical sockets for any air leaks and seal them with weather-stripping.

2. Increase ventilation
You need to create a suitable plan for opening and closing your windows to keep cool air in and hot air out. On very hot days, it may be better to keep the windows, doors, and shades closed until the temperatures drop. You can use a ceiling fan to improve air circulation, but remember to turn it off when you leave. The fan should circulate anticlockwise for cooling, which can reduce the temperature by up to 5 degrees.

3. Maximise on available shade
Avoid trimming trees that protect your windows, doors, or roof from direct sunlight. You may also install exterior awnings to protect the openings from direct sunlight. For west-facing windows, consider installing sunscreen-fabric curtains, reflective film, or roller shades. For new window installations, choose Energy Star rated panes with a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).

4. Keep your skin and body cool
There are a number of ways to achieve this:

  • First, you should wear less clothing and choose lightweight and breathable fabrics.

  • Second, place a cold and wet washcloth around your forehead, neck, or feet when feeling exhausted rather than turning on the AC. Keep the washcloth in the fridge or freezer so it’s ready when you need it.

  • Third, take cool showers in the late afternoon or evening so you can be cool when going to bed and to conserve water. Even when you bathe early in the day, you will need to shower in the evening because heat is exhausting.

  • Fourth, eat colder foods such as smoothies, water, fresh fruits, salads, ice cream, etc.

5. Change your cooking patterns
Avoid using the stove or oven in the afternoon or evening to avoid heat buildup inside the house. Alternatively, use your outdoor kitchen to prepare meals.

Lastly, use less internal lights. Light bulbs emit light. So keep them off as much as possible, and use dimmer setting for night lighting.