The American Lung Association (ALA) awarded Maricopa County’s air an F in both ozone and particle pollution. The rest of Arizona didn’t fare much better. Only Navajo County received a B, all other counties received D and F ratings.
Even if you think this sounds bad, you probably wonder, “What does this have to do with my home?” Well, the ALA has bad news about that, as well. It turns out that the air in our homes may be more polluted than the air we breathe outside. The reasons are many, but come down to poor ventilation and air filtration coupled with a wide variety of indoor air pollutants that cause a number of health issues, particularly for people who suffer from allergies or asthma.
There is no way to stop these airborne pollutants from entering your home. They follow you into the house on the soles of your feet, the paws and fur of your pets, and ride on the air whenever you sneeze, cough, or open a door or window.
How Does Your House Breathe?
To keep the air inside healthy, your house needs to “breathe,” circulating clean air in and dirty air out. It does this through its ventilation system.
Fresh air enters your home three main ways. There is, of course, your HVAC system, which forces air into the building. Then you have openings – doors, windows, joints, cracks, etc. – that bring air into the home. Finally, you have spot ventilation, such as bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans.
One deterrent to bringing in clean, healthy air is a side effect of building more energy efficient homes. Put simply, modern homes do not have the cracks and gaps around windows, joints, doors, and ductwork that they used to have. Energy efficiency is great for your power bills and prolonging the life of your HVAC system (and the planet), but it really does a number on the air quality inside your home.
What Air Pollutants Lurk in Your Home?
Poor air quality contributes to a variety of health issues. This is particularly true for vulnerable populations, including infants and children, adults over 60, and those with preexisting conditions such as chronic lung disease and asthma.
Not every home has all of these pollutants lurking in its air, but every home has at least one of the following items.
- Bacteria and viruses are living organisms that become airborne easily. When breathed in, they cause disease and exacerbate preexisting conditions. Poor ventilation allows bacteria and viruses to thrive, particularly in humid conditions.
- Building materials, such as paint products, plywood, flooring, and furnishings, emit dust, fumes, VOCs, formaldehyde, benzene, and other dangerous chemicals. New construction and remodels significantly increase the health risks presented by building materials.
- Carpeting traps a variety of pollutants including dust mites, particle pollution, pesticides, mold spores, dirt, and pet dander. Then, when you vacuum or even simply walk across the floor, you send these pollutants airborne. The smaller you are, the more susceptible you are to these pollutants, meaning children and pets are particularly vulnerable.
- Cleaning supplies and other household chemicals – even “green” or organic varieties – are common VOC culprits. Ammonia and bleach, and even those with natural citrus fragrances, cause numerous respiratory issues, as well as headaches and allergic reactions.
- Mold grows wherever there is too much moisture. You might find it after a flood, around leaky pipes or poorly connected plumbing fixtures, poor exhaust in the kitchen or bath, or where condensation occurs around A/C units, refrigerators, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers. Proper ventilation goes a long way toward controlling some of the dampness that causes mold.
- Pet dander is the microscopic bits of skin shed by animals who sport fur or feathers; it is particularly dangerous to those with allergies. In addition, proteins found in pets’ saliva, urine, and feces cause a variety of allergic reactions. These are the items people are actually allergic to, not the animals’ fur. In addition, pets carry an enormous variety of pollutants into the home on their paws and fur.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are gas emissions from a variety of products and processes, including paints, cleaning products, air fresheners, tobacco smoke, office equipment, cosmetics, furniture, flooring, pesticides, and fuels. At best, they irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. At worst, some VOCs cause cancer. Your ventilation and home air purification systems help, but give them an assist by looking for low-VOC products and disposing of leftover products safely.
Air Purification Systems Cleanse the Air
A whole house air purifier improves air quality throughout your home, and even works for small businesses. Isley’s, in fact, uses the Air Scrubber air purification system in our Gilbert office. Staff like it so much that many of them have installed Air Scrubber in their homes, as well.
Of course, adding any air filtration system to your home helps improve indoor air quality, but only a whole home system scrubs away all of the pollutants listed above. In fact, the Trane CleanEffects Air Purifier is eight times more effective than even the best HEPA filter, and 100 times more effective than a standard 1″ air filter. CleanEffects removes a whopping 99.98 percent of airborne allergens.
Although the two systems use vastly different technologies, each removes pet dander, dust, VOCs, bacteria, pollen, and more from your home. The result is that everyone in your home breathes cleaner, healthier air.
Trane also offers a whole-home ventilation system, Trane FreshEffects, which improves circulation throughout the home, replacing stale air with fresh air to further improve air quality.
So, Is an Air Purification System Worth It?
In a word, yes. If anyone in your family suffers from allergies, asthma, or a chronic lung condition, the answer becomes, YES! Air pollutants and allergens raise your risk of developing colds, the flu, allergies, and respiratory issues. Isley’s provides whole home air purifiers, and even has an air purification special running right now for an Air Scrubber Plus system through 2017. But, even if you don’t get one from us, we strongly encourage you to research the best systems and install one in your home. Your lungs will thank you.