Indoor Activities That Harm Your Air Quality in Fall
As the vibrant colors of autumn foliage paint the outdoor landscape, the cozy allure of spending more time indoors becomes irresistible. Fall invites us to nestle in the warmth of our homes, savoring the aroma of spiced cider while we cozy up in fuzzy socks.
However, beneath this perfect autumn picture lies a potential hazard that often goes unnoticed: indoor air quality. The very activities that bring us comfort during the fall can inadvertently compromise the air we breathe inside our homes.
In today’s blog, we'll explore the unsuspecting culprits that impact air quality in fall and what you can do to mitigate air pollution and improve air quality indoors.
Causes of Fall Indoor Air Pollution
There are many fall activities that cause air pollution. Here are some of the major causes of indoor pollution that impact autumn air quality:
- Burning Candles: Many people enjoy lighting scented candles in the fall, but these candles can release harmful chemicals and particulate matter into the air.
- Using Wood-burning Fireplaces: While the warmth and ambiance of a cozy fire can be inviting, burning wood can release pollutants.
- Cooking with Open Flames: Fall is a season for hearty cooking, and using gas stoves can emit nitrogen dioxide and other indoor air pollutants.
- Neglecting HVAC Maintenance: People start using their heating systems more frequently as the weather cools down. Neglecting regular HVAC maintenance can lead to the circulation of dust, mold, and other allergens.
- Poor air circulation: Keeping windows closed decreases air circulation, so you get less fresh outdoor air in your home.
- High Indoor humidity levels: As the temperature drops, the air's ability to hold moisture decreases, leading to lower indoor humidity levels. This then prompts many to use an indoor humidifier to adjust the relative humidity level, but doing so can increase the chances of getting mold and raise particulate matter levels.
- Home Renovation Projects: Some homeowners take advantage of the cooler weather to tackle home improvement projects. However, sanding, painting, and using certain construction materials can release VOCs and particulate matter into the air.
Tips to Improve Air Quality in Fall
Improving indoor air quality during the fall is essential for your health and well-being. Here are some tips to help you maintain good air quality, with a focus on air quality monitoring.
#1 - Start Air Quality Monitoring
First, you can invest in an air quality monitor to establish a baseline for indoor air quality, allowing you to track changes. It also enables swift responses to fluctuations in air quality. For instance, if the monitor detects a sudden rise in pollutants, you can promptly adjust ventilation or activate air purifiers.
In addition to monitoring your home air quality, it can also be helpful to monitor outdoor air quality in your area. Monitoring outdoor air quality through a residential air quality monitor or real-time air quality map can help you make informed decisions about protecting your indoor air quality.
#2 - Improve Ventilation & Humidity
Ensure proper ventilation by opening windows and doors when the weather allows, and outdoor air quality is good. Fresh outdoor air can help dilute indoor pollutants and improve the air exchange rate. You can also use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture and air pollutants at the source.
Finally, properly seal gaps and cracks in windows and doors to prevent outdoor pollutants from entering your home. Adequate insulation helps to regulate indoor temperatures and humidity.
#3 - Invest in Air Purifiers
Next, consider using HEPA air purifiers equipped with activated carbon filters to remove airborne particles, allergens, and odors. Choose an appropriately sized purifier for the room you intend to use it in. When using humidifiers and dehumidifiers to maintain indoor humidity levels, it’s generally suggested that you stay within the recommended range of 30% to 50%.
#4 - Start Cleaning Regularly
Dust, vacuum, and mop your home regularly to remove allergens, dust mites, and pet dander. You can also use natural, non-toxic cleaning products to reduce the release of harmful chemicals. Many commercial cleaning products contain VOCs that can negatively impact air quality.
You should also schedule professional HVAC maintenance to clean and inspect your heating and cooling systems. Dirty or clogged filters and ducts can harbor pollutants and allergens, so replace filters regularly. If you have a furnace, replace the filters regularly to ensure proper airflow and filtration.
#5 - Avoid Polluting Activities
Lastly, we recommend you avoid scented candles, air fresheners, and room sprays containing synthetic fragrances. These products can release VOCs and irritants into the air. When painting or engaging in DIY projects that involve products containing VOCs, work in well-ventilated areas, use respirators if necessary, and allow time for fumes to dissipate.
By following these tips and using an air quality monitor to stay informed, you can effectively improve and maintain good indoor air quality during the fall and throughout the year.