Allergy season is upon us here in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and throughout the Midwest region.
And, with some employees returning to the office, it’s time to think about how to protect your indoor air quality (at home and at the office) so you can do what you can to combat allergies.
What Is ‘Good’ Indoor Air Quality?
We can define good indoor air quality when it meets certain criteria including:
The air being clean and purified. It’s important to use good housekeeping habits in your indoor spaces. These include vacuuming, dusting, and wiping down surfaces.
The air is well ventilated and is not stale. The EPA says indoor air can be 5x as polluted as the outdoor air. In theory, if the air in a room is not made fresh, instead of being filtered out with outside air, carbon dioxide and pollutants will build up, and that can be harmful. Ensuring the air is well distributed and the air filtration systems are clean helps fight off unwanted pollutants and it can also prevent against that air getting stale or stuffy, too (1, 2).
Step #1: Start By Reducing Pollutants
Knowing what “good” indoor air quality is helps us to know what to do in order to protect our IAQ.
Common culprits include:
- Dust mites
- Pet dander
- Compounds from certain cleaners
- Other chemicals
- Bacteria and viruses
Since dust is such a major problem—and can really add up in indoor spaces—do you best to prevent and get rid of dust. This can be done through routine dusting, vacuuming and reducing clutter.
You should also change out your air filter regularly which is one of the top ways to find relief from allergens in your home and office, too.
Air filters regularly and consistently eliminate mold, pollen, spores and other contaminants throughout your home. Good air filters keep your home cleaner and they keep the actual air itself cleaner and fresher, which many people do not recognize.
Besides regularly dusting, get rid of pet hair and get rid of cobwebs. The point is that routine cleaning will combat allergens in the air. Mold that builds up in our showers or other areas is also something to work to eliminate and get rid of. That’s part of why you always want to use vents or fans to keep the air moving and to minimize humidity.
If you have extreme allergies and no fan in your bathroom, look into the possibility of getting a fan which can help reduce this mold build-up over time.
Next, if you aren’t already, consider washing your bedding at least once a week in hot water to also get rid of potential allergens, pollen, dust, dust mites, and pet dander. At the very least, this can help you have a more comfortable home, especially if you have pets or if doors or windows have been open, which tends introduce even more allergens.
Step #2: Ask your Tenants to Keep the Windows Closed
That brings us to the next point: As tempting as it may be to catch the evening breeze, or to simply get some fresh air, it’s best to keep windows shut. Pollutants can—and will—get into your home when you open the windows, so keep them shut to do your best to keep them out.
Step #3: Be Mindful of Those Plants & Flowers
It’s true we’re talking about indoor air, but what’s near your home can of course contribute to allergies. If you are feeling inspired to update your landscaping, be mindful of what you plant since those can trigger people’s allergies.
Some of the best low-allergen plants include orchids, begonia, impatiens, azalea, and zinnia. You can also spice up your yard with low-allergen trees such as a crepe myrtle or a eucalyptus plant (3).
And on the subject of plants, your indoor plants can cause problems too. Bonsai trees, Yucca, ivy, Orchids, African violets and other indoor plants can give people with allergies some issues (4).
Step #4: Take Proper Steps to Control Your Facility’s (or Home’s) Humidity Levels
In our region, there can be a great deal of humidity, and that negatively impacts the quality of the air, too.
Your building’s HVAC system should be able to manage that kind of humidity. If not, an energy audit can determine how moisture control is working in your space. There could be needed changes or things that need to stop taking place, and an energy audit can help determine what next steps should be to minimize the extra moisture.
All in all, keep in mind how heat and humidity have a lot of side effects on your system: in fact, we regularly see just how much temperature changes can mean dirt, dust and debris is exposes to and impacts outdoor units (1). If heavier debris settle into your system, it can directly reduce the efficiency and effectiveness of that system.
On top of this, you are constantly going to be battling other culprits, year-round, so never skip on any scheduled maintenance.
If you are regularly maintaining your equipment, especially during times of seasonal change, your system will be able to work against indoor air culprits and too little or too much moisture in the air, as intended. We can never emphasis this enough.
Step #5: Consider Banning Tobacco Usage
It may be a good idea to consider prohibiting the use of tobacco inside the building and also to confine the use of tobacco products to a designated smoking area outdoors far away from the building’s entrance. If you get rid of the source of the pollutant itself, you can really transform your indoor air quality, so it’s a point to consider to cut down on pollutants to help those with allergies.
Step #6: Ask Us About Air Purifiers or Air Filters
Air cleaners and air purifiers do a lot to protect and preserve our indoor air quality.
Air purifiers work to sanitize the air. They typically emit negative ions, ozone, utilizing heat or they use UV or UVC lamps to help sanitize the air. We can thank them for helping us reduce odors and getting rid of things that do, generally speaking, potentially make us sick or worsen allergies.
Air cleaners, on the other hand, work to filter the air. Air cleaners work to “clean” the air and collect the dust—which typically is the larger particles. That also includes pet dander which can be a major source of indoor air quality issues.
Many think of their HEPA air cleaner which is a great example of one way we work to protect our health and indoor air quality by using an air cleaner. If you’re wondering if either is it worth it for your home (or office), give us call and we can help you find a solution that’s a fit for your space.
Greater Comfort Is Here To Help Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
With options like top-of-the-line air filters, humidity control systems, UV germicidal lights, we have the tools (and the experience and knowledge) to make your building’s air fresh and clean. We know, now more than ever, it is important to keep your occupant’s healthy and safe.
Get in touch with us today to learn about more ways to combat allergies and to also prevent people from getting sick.
Call the experts at Greater Comfort today to ensure that your air quality is as clean as possible. Contact us here or call 859-491-4915.