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Easy Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Easy Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

25th Feb 2021

Are coughing fits, wheezing, a runny nose, and red eyes part of your cleaning routine? Individuals who suffer from allergies, asthma, or other sensitive conditions can have a hard time completing simple household chores.

From choosing the right vacuum to switching laundry detergents and cleaning products there are several easy ways to improve indoor air quality. Even if individuals in your home are not triggered by certain actives it is still important to ensure you are making the best choice for the air your breathe.

HEPA Filters:

In the most basic terms, HEPA filters (which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air) are rated to capture 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in diameter, or larger. Most pollens and allergens fall within this size range. When used in a vacuum the HEPA filter acts as a barrier preventing the particles in the air from being released from the machine.

However, not all vacuums are created equal, and not all filtration systems are the same. It is common for a vacuum cleaner to use a HEPA filter, but not use a sealed filtration system. Sealed filtration means that the vacuum is designed in a way that forces all of the air to pass through the bag (if applicable) and filters before being expelled from the vacuum. Without sealed filtration it is possible for air and allergens to escape the machine before ever passing through a filter – causing all of the particles to be recirculated throughout the space. The Miele Compact C2 and Complete C3 canister vacuums are an excellent example of vacuums using a sealed filtration.

Even if your vacuum does not use HEPA filters, it is recommended to change the vacuum filter every 12-18 months. Overtime filters become clogged with microscopic debris, which cannot be removed by simply banging or shaking the filter. A clogged filter is less effective at capturing harmful particles, reduces the suction performance of the machine, and makes the motor work harder causing additional wear and tear to the machine.

If you have a Bagless vacuum, it is extremely important to follow the filter maintenance guidelines of your machine as there is no bag to offer that first round of filtration / protection.

Central Vacuums:

Central vacuums are designed differently than traditional portable vacuum cleaners. The dirt and debris are removed from the floor surface, and then transported via pipes installed inside of the walls to a central location (typically the garage or storage room). Since the debris is collected in a separate space, away from the operator, the chance of exposure to allergens via the exhaust air is almost zero. When individuals are triggered while vacuuming, or shortly after the space has been vacuumed (since the particles can be stirred up and caused to float around the room), central vacuum is strongly recommended to help prevent allergies or asthma symptoms. For added filtration central vacuums can be vented outside, which means any particle that does pass through the filter is expelled outside and not back into the indoor space.

Additionally, since the physical central vacuum is larger it can house a larger and more powerful motor over other styles of vacuums. This leaves floors cleaner and removes more allergens from the surface. Select Beam central vacuum systems offer 5 times stronger suction than upright vacuum cleaners.

Easy Changes to Make:

  • Choose fragrance free laundry detergents and cleaning products if individuals in the household are triggered by fragrances. Skin sensitivities are commonly caused by laundry detergent residue left on fabrics.
  • Vacuum mattresses regularly and launder sheets and bedding in hot water. This helps to remove dead skin cells which are a food source for dust mites. While dust mites do not cause bites to humans, individuals with allergies can develop rashes, sneezing, and runny noses.
  • Humidifiers and dehumidifiers both use filters. Ensure units are emptied of water when not in use and filters cleaned or replaced regularly based upon manufacturers suggestions. Otherwise, bacteria and mould can grow on filter surfaces.
  • Improve ventilation in your home. Some of the easier steps include using kitchen and bathroom fans and ensuring that baseboard or heating vents (including air return vents) are free from furniture and other obstructions.
  • Vacuum bathrooms exhaust fans, and regularly clean kitchen exhaust fans. Furnace filters need to be replaced every 3-12 months depending on the manufacturer.
  • Monitor outdoor air quality in your region with the Health Canada Air Quality Health Index and plan activities accordingly.
  • Wear a mask and eye protection while cutting the grass, and immediately change clothes and shower once back indoors.:

Air Purifiers:

Buyer Beware: If you're in the market for an Air Purifier, be advised that Health Canada does not recommend units using electrostatic filtration methods. While they are effective, this type of air purifier can emit ozone into the air, which can be harmful to your lungs and is a known trigger for asthma sufferers.

Our top recommended air purifier for improving indoor air quality is from the Austin Air brand of air purifiers. Their units do not produce ozone, and use manufacturing processes that ensure there's no off gassing of VOC's, which can be a trigger to many individuals with breathing concerns. Be sure to follow the guidelines for filter replacement for your air purifier. (Austin is generally every 5 years)

Sources: - treatment