Did you know that you take an estimated 12 to 16 breaths each minute? By the end of the average day, you may have breathed in and out up to 23,000 times.
That is a lot of air—or, more precisely, a lot of oxygen! At least, you hope that what you are breathing in is mainly oxygen and not any number of other toxins, pollutants, and allergens that are known to be present in today’s air supply.
Even worse, for most of us, the indoor air we breathe is up to 5 times more polluted than the air outside. And since most of us spend much of our days and nights indoors, that can add up to a sobering amount of polluted air.
In this post, learn what else (besides oxygen) is in your indoor air, plus 4 key steps to ensure that, from now on, every breath you take indoors is as clean and pure as it possibly can be.
What Is in Your Indoor Air?
Once you learn about the kinds of toxins commonly present in the average person’s indoor air supply, you will want to get started cleaning up your own indoor air as soon as possible.
Here is a list of the ingredients that can be found in a typical molecule of indoor air:
- Pollen and spores
- Particulate matter (dust and debris)
- Mould, fungi, and mildew
- Tobacco smoke (first-hand, second-hand)
- Volatile organic compounds (aka VOCs)
- CO (carbon monoxide)
- NO2 (nitrogen dioxide)
- Wood smoke
The most common ways these contaminants get into your indoor air is via your normal, everyday activities such as cooking, heating or cooling your home, smoking or using tobacco products, using power tools or equipment, cleaning with commercial cleaning products, and doing crafts or hobbies.
The contaminants tend to build up over time, especially when indoor air conditions are damp and humid (i.e., above 50 percent humidity) and ventilation indoors is poor.
While your indoor air may not contain all the contaminants listed here, if you regularly engage in the activities just mentioned, there is a good chance your indoor air is in need of a good cleaning!
Step #1: Schedule an indoor air quality test
It just makes sense that if you have decided to clean up your indoor air at home or work (or both places), you would want to start with an indoor air quality test.
This test, which can be conducted unobtrusively while you are going about your daily life, will tell you conclusively what contaminants are most prevalent in the indoor air supply.
The testing equipment will be set up to monitor your indoor air over a period of 72 hours. During this period, the monitor will take a sample each minute and compile that data into a color-coded report you can use as your guide when implementing air quality improvement measures.
The test will also offer insights into what types of measures may be recommended based on the report’s findings.
Step #2: Schedule a duct cleaning service
It doesn’t make much sense to thoroughly clean your home and furnishings but not your air ducts. Unless you clean out your air ducts first—before you take any other action—all of the contaminants you are working so hard to remove will be right back in your indoor air supply the moment you turn on your air conditioner or heater.
This is because the contaminants get trapped in the lint and dust that accumulate in your HVAC unit’s air duct system. As the layer gets thicker, more and more contaminants are trapped inside and then get re-released into your indoor air as the HVAC unit cycles on and off.
By having your air ducts professionally cleaned, you remove the toxins in the one place they have congregated in the greatest numbers. As soon as the air duct cleaning has been completed, you should also change your air filter right away and consider upgrading to a HEPA-rated filter.
An indoor air duct cleaning service can be as basic or complex as your HVAC system demands.
Step #3: Get your mattresses professionally cleaned and sheathed
Allergy sheaths for mattresses and pillows have been a real health aid for people who suffer from chronic allergies and asthma. These sheaths, which are relatively inexpensive and work quite well, keep dust mites and allergens from gathering inside your mattress and pillows and from interfering with your sleep by aggravating your allergies.
But before you begin using allergy sheaths, it is best to have your mattresses professionally cleaned. This service, which is completely non-invasive and non-toxic, can be done in less than 20 minutes per mattress. The moment the service is done, you can sheath your mattress and pillows and look forward to a comfortable, good sleep that very night.
Step #4: Get your dryer vent cleaned
Even after you have completed your air quality test, cleaned out your air duct system, and had your mattresses cleaned, there is still one place where contaminants and allergens can hide out in force inside your home.
This place is inside your dryer vent. And here, we are not just talking about the lint drawer, but deep in the recesses of your dryer system as well. Allergens, toxins, and contaminants can get re-added to your clean clothes and linens and reintroduced into your indoor air supply unless you root them out once and for all with a dryer vent cleaning.
Once you have completed these 4 big steps, all that is left is the surface cleaning to ensure new contaminants do not have a chance to infiltrate your newly clean, pure indoor air.