Summer is synonymous with vacations, holidays, nani or dadi house and a lot of indoor time with ACs running all day. Unlike winter, summers bring about a different set of potential hazards. The two month long vacations and children being at home leads to a lot of outside activity – this affects our indoor air very differently.
While outside we interact with seasonal air pollution, a higher ozone concentration and high humidity. We bring these elements back into the home with us. Three or more months of forced air in a tight environment where moisture, mold spores and ozone issues combine can aggravate allergies and trigger illness. Though we traditionally spend more time outside in the summer, there are days and weeks when the temperatures keep everyone house-bound. EPSCO brings you tips to maintain a healthy summer indoor air quality.
Exhaust Ventilation – The four basic types of ventilation are exhaust, supply, balanced, and energy/heat recovery. Of these, exhaust is the most overlooked yet important source for summer humidity. Exhaust fans remove humidity from the kitchen and bathroom, preventing a build-up of moisture that could lead to mold. Make sure that your exhaust fans are running at optimum efficiency – and ensure you use them pretty often.
Strong Air Filter – A strong air filter on your HVAC system will greatly help in removing airborne contaminants and allergens from the air. Changing your filter out at least once a month is recommended during the summer when HVAC activity is constant. There are a variety of filters available – including inexpensive fiberglass options that are not very effective at removing smaller particles. Make sure that your filter is made from polyester/cotton and has a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) around 8-12.
Fresh Air – When we wake up late, it becomes increasingly more difficult to let in fresh air. But on clear, early summer days (when the ozone levels are low), try opening the windows in the early morning. This way you will be able to ventilate your home on a regular basis. Be mindful of the humidity levels though – and keep the windows closed on rainy or overly humid days. Damp air can encourage mold and mildew growth.
UV Germicidal Lights – Germicidal UV light filters are a safe, non-chemical approach to disinfecting indoor air. These filters effectively sterilize potentially poisonous organisms, eventually destroying them completely. Most designs are simple, inexpensive and function like a typical air filter. They are installed in an HVAC system’s ductwork and produce a safe dosage of ultraviolet light (about 16,000 microwatt seconds per square centimeter) that stops the growth of toxic organisms. The lights work even when your HVAC isn’t turned on, ensuring continuous disinfection.
Clothing Contamination – When you go outside, your clothing will possibly pick up whatever allergens or toxins are in the air. In the summer there are less allergens, but more toxins generated through the heat and ozone levels. Before you enter your home, make sure to remove your shoes and brush off your clothing – especially if you have been around animals or in a garden or park. Also add welcome mats in front of all doors to encourage everyone to keep the dust and dirt outside.
Clean Floors – It’s summer time and we understand that your house help may also be on a holiday. Keep a new help or ensure you mop the floors at least once in a day to keep the dust away.
Plants – One of the best ways to fight airborne toxins and purify the air is to add houseplants. There are several low-maintenance plants that are ideal for removing certain toxins including formaldehyde, benzene and other common air pollutants. Aloe vera, spider plants, golden pathos, Boston ferns, snake plants and floral mums are just a few of the options. A quick trip to your local nursery will reveal dozens of suitable pants that can help with your IAQ.
By implementing just a few of these tips, you will be able to help keep your IAQ at healthier levels throughout the summer season. Remember to watch the humidity inside your home, which should be no more than 30% – 50% for keeping allergens under control. EPSCO wishes you all a happy and healthy summer vacations.