Typically, breathing is a subconscious, automatic act. We usually don’t think about it.
That is, until we start to suffer. When our noses start running, our eyes start watering, our ears clog, and our throat hurts, we become conscious of our breathing. Suddenly, all our attention is focused on what to do to make the discomfort go away.
The truth is, in today’s increasingly urbanized living and work spaces, indoor air is much more likely to be toxic to our body than outdoor air. This may not feel intuitive, but air quality experts state that it is oh-so-true.
In this post, discover the 5 most common causes of toxic indoor air and how to stop them right away!
Oxygen + Our Body
Did you know that an estimated 90 percent of the energy you need to live each day is created when you breathe in oxygen? In other words, in order for each cell in your body to do its job properly, it must have access to oxygen.
The purity of the oxygen and the oxygen content in the air we breathe have everything to do with our ability to achieve our goals, enjoy life and take care of our loved ones.
This is relevant because today’s air has less oxygen content than ever before. Even just two centuries ago, the air contained nearly 40 percent oxygen with just a smidgen of carbon dioxide (what our lungs exhale as a waste product). One century ago, the air contained 22 percent oxygen. Today, there is actually more carbon dioxide in the air found in most major metropolitan areas than there is oxygen.
While it is not feasible for all of us to pack up and move off the grid just for the sake of air quality, it is critical to do what we can to reduce air toxins in the air we breathe most frequently.
The 5 Most Common Causes of Toxic Indoor Air
If you’ve read this far, you can already identify one of the 5 toxins—carbon dioxide! And happily, there is a relatively simple fix to naturally and quickly reduce carbon dioxide levels in your home and workplace—that is, houseplants.
Houseplants “breathe” carbon dioxide and “exhale” oxygen as their waste product. Together, humans and houseplants make a near perfect match.
However, we want to concentrate here not so much on the toxins themselves as their causes, so we can prevent them.
Here are the 5 most common causes of toxic indoor air:
1. Poor ventilation
With poor ventilation, what you get is repeat doses of the same toxic, stale air. Yuck! Ventilation that permits toxic outgoing air to mix with fresh incoming air is one of the main causes of recycled toxins in your indoor air system, as is an inadequate or underpowered ventilation system.
Dampness caused by moisture, condensation, leaks, humidity, and other factors can turn into mildew and mold with surprising rapidity. Mold and mildew can cause both minor and many more serious health and respiratory symptoms, some of which can become irreversible if left unaddressed for long enough.
3. Inadequately maintained HVAC systems
HVAC systems that have been left unmaintained typically have plenty of dirt, debris, and toxins packed into their filters, innermost components, and surrounding compartments. This often makes them unable to keep the indoor air humidity balanced enough to prevent mold and mildew from forming.
4. Introduced toxins from human projects
It is always best to do crafting or do-it-yourself projects outdoors or in a very well-ventilated area. But this is not always feasible or even possible, especially when the project involves painting or remodeling interior spaces. Thus, the toxins from home projects are added into the indoor air supply.
5. Dirty air ducts
Dirty air ducts are one of the biggest culprits in terms of indoor air toxins that get trapped inside and can never work their way out. This is because these toxins are in the dust, debris, lint, and dirt that gets packed into the inside walls of the air duct system itself. So these toxins get recirculated to the indoor air for the foreseeable future.
How to Clean Toxic Indoor Air RIGHT NOW!
So now you understand why having clean indoor air to breathe at home and at work is so critically important. And you understand how the dangerous toxins get into your indoor air supply and then get trapped there.
But how do you fix them? Here are the best fast and economical fixes you can begin to work on today!
Change your filters
You can change your air filters in your air conditioner and furnace right now. If you want or need a higher level of filtration, you may also want to upgrade to a HEPA-certified filter (these filters can remove up to 99.9 percent of known air toxins).
Schedule an HVAC unit maintenance call
Getting your HVAC unit inspected and maintained can clear out so much of the dirt, dust, and debris that otherwise gets trapped inside your indoor air duct system.
Clean your ducts
By having your air ducts professionally cleaned, you can permanently remove all of the trapped toxins that would otherwise continue to recirculate through your indoor air system.
Two other highly complementary services to consider are having your mattresses cleaned and your dryer vent cleaned. In this way, you can get rid of all the lingering toxins once and for all and be on your way to cleaner, more highly oxygenated indoor air.