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5 Tips to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality and Your Mental Function

Did you know that the concentration of air pollutants indoors is on average, 2- 5 times higher than outdoors!?

That coupled with the fact that $150 billion per year are spent on air pollutant related illnesses and that countless studies have proven mental sharpness and function is very negatively affected by poor air quality, and we have a serious problem on our hands.

Could your employees be performing better? Your clients? Worse, is your space making people sick??

First, let’s take a quick look at what  is polluting your indoor air:

  • Dust and even lead via dust
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’S) like formaldehyde and benzene (both in certain cleaning products & air fresheners)
  • Pet dander (this gets tracked in by anyone who owns pets)
  • Mold
  • Fire-retardants
  • Etc. etc.

Before getting too worked up, let’s look at 5 ways to solve this problem, all of which are easy and affordable. 

1. Keep your floors clean

Whether or not you see it, floors are covered in dust, pet dander, other allergens, even fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs)…

Vacuuming regularly (multiple times per week if not daily) with a HEPA-filtered vacuum is critical, then mopping to pick up whatever is left on the floors.

Entry mats are also critical, as people track in tons of harmful chemicals, etc. on their shoes and mats go a long way by reducing this spread by at least 30% (even better if you can get them to remove their shoes…)

2. Maintain a healthy humidity level

Dust mites and mold love moisture! Keeping humidity around 30%-50% helps keep them and other allergens under control. 

A dehumidifier (and air conditioner during summer months) helps reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively controls allergens.

Additionally emptying drip pans from window units and the dehumidifier is critical.

3. Incorporate air purifying plants

A study done by NASA found that in addition to absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen, plants improve indoor air quality by removing organic pollutants like volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), which have been linked to cancer and many other health issues. (Wolverton et. al.)

Just don’t over water them as this will increase humidity!

4. Open the windows

Another EPA recommendation is to use natural ventilation as often as possible, such as turning off your A/C and opening the windows!

Additionally if you have fans, this is a great time to turn them on so that the air circulates really well.

This can be difficult when it’s super hot outside, but even if done once per day when it’s cooler (i.e. early morning or evening), it can make a tremendous difference in air quality.

5. Smell good, naturally

While many often associate the smell of pine or other chemical smells with clean, many of these emit dozens of harmful chemicals into the air. 

In one study, a plug-in air freshener was found to emit 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including seven regulated as toxic or hazardous under U.S. federal laws.

So what to do??

  • Switch to fragrance free or naturally scented air freshener and cleaning products
  • Stop using aerosol sprays
  • Use essential oils
  • Back to tip number 4, open the windows to air it out, especially if any harsh chemicals are used

Conclusion

While the topic of indoor air pollution is a serious problem, it’s also one that can be solved or at least improved, with relatively little work and cost.

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