You have probably heard the term summer smog before. Smog is generated by vehicle emissions, industrial pollution particulates, sulfur dioxide and other airborne contaminants that react to sunlight.
Smoggy conditions can aggravate respiratory conditions such as emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma. It has also been connected to heart attacks. The Journal of the America College of Cardiology reported that smog can trigger atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is the development of an abnormal, irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, strokes and heart failure.
Think that closing your windows and turning on the air conditioning will protect you from these pollutants? Think again. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports air pollutants indoors are often two to five times higher than the air pollution found outside. Air in our homes often contains pet dander, microscopic particles from dust mites, chemicals from cleaning and renovations, and off-gassing from furniture and carpets.
Humidity levels in the home play a role in aggravating or minimizing the impact of air pollution. Ideally, your indoor humidity levels should be between 30 to 50 percent. This ensures that your home is not too dry – which could aggravate viruses like influenza – or overly moist. Proper humidity levels also contribute to better sleeping conditions, helping to reduce your stress and vulnerability to other illnesses.
Combating indoor air pollutants
For those sensitive to air pollution, awareness of the dangers is critical. Taking protective measures can also help to reduce the negative health impacts during elevated periods of smog.
Keep in mind that our energy-efficient and well-sealed building envelope is vulnerable to stale and polluted air build up. If you have pets, keep them groomed, and be sure to vacuum often. To reduce the introduction of new chemicals into your home, you can also make DIY cleaners with natural and organic ingredients.
Consider keeping some indoor houseplants which are well-known for removing pollutants from the air and improving overall air quality. For example, the Boston Fern will clear air from a cool location with high humidity and indirect light. Unlike some other plant options, the Boston Fern will not contribute pollen or floral scents to the air.
For many people, a high-performance air purifier that efficiently removes particulate pollution from indoor air at home can reduce the risk of exposure to smog. You should regularly inspect your air filter and replace it as needed. Consider the benefits of a dehumidifier to balance your home’s humidity levels.
Your air conditioner can be a source of mold and bacteria if improperly maintained. The air conditioner coil is continually damp and located in a dark environment. If you have UV lights installed inside of your ductwork, this breeding ground for mold and bacteria will be disrupted. UV rays are also a beneficial for protecting against infectious diseases, as they can damage the physical structure of biological pollutants.
If you are unsure about your home’s indoor air quality, we are happy to assist with your air quality and ventilation questions and concerns!
We can service and maintain your existing HVAC system to ensure that you have the healthy and happy home your family needs. We can also install an air purification system to help you breathe easier during hot, humid periods of smog in the summer months. Give us a call today!