Air pollution is quickly becoming the primary problem confronting urban Indians. You may think that the air in your home is free from outdoor pollutants. However, in some cases, indoor air can be just as polluted or even worse, hence it very important to look for ways to improve the air quality indoor. Visible smoke and dust are not the only pollutants. Dust in our home generated by dead skin cells, airborne microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, dust mites, etc), pollen from flowers, and emissions from various household chemicals have an adverse effect on the quality of indoor air. It is little wonder that air purifiers are one of the largest growing products in the urban household appliances market. Unfortunately, effective and high-quality air purifiers are very expensive and cannot deal with large airborne particles too well. Thankfully, there are a number of pocket-friendly and effective ways to improve indoor air quality naturally.
The Importance of Lowering Humidity
Humans shed our skin like most animals. We do not realise it as the process is slow but continuous. Human skin flakes are extremely small and form a bulk of the dust in most homes. Even the food we cook and eat produces microscopic flakes that accumulate over time. We also share our homes with large populations of microorganisms like dust mites, bacteria and fungi that feed on the organic matter in dust particles. Usually, their numbers remain in control due to regular cleaning. However, some conditions make it difficult. Humid air promotes the growth of unwanted microbes, particularly bacteria and fungi. Besides the increased risk of allergies and illness, these may lead to bad smells and visible spots in your home. Lowering the humidity of an area produces a marked improvement in the air quality. Air conditioners do this automatically but they tend to be very rapid, leading to problems like dry skin which in turn produces more skin flakes. Where possible, you should keep the dehumidifier of an AC on only for short durations.
Now that you know the basics of what it is you are trying to control, we can begin to discuss the ways to improve indoor air quality naturally.
6 ways to improve indoor air quality naturally
1. House Plants
You must try and keep leafy indoor plants in your home. They help purify the air and beautify your home. They are one of the most cost-effective way of improving the air quality in your home. They also look pretty and are quite easy to look after.
Stale air is bad! Not only is it more humid, it has lower oxygen, more microorganisms, suspended chemicals, etc. Proper ventilation will bring in fresh air and keep your home feeling great. This does not mean that you should open all your windows. In a city, this may lower the humidity but will also let in more serious pollutants. What you need is small openings, called trickle vents, to let in air at a reasonable rate that can be purified and further increase the air quality. Next, consider installing exhaust fans. You should always have large exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathroom but do not neglect the rest of your home. Consider placing small exhaust fans with auto-closing vents in corridors and other rooms. These are not as powerful as the normal ones in your kitchen. However, they are extremely effective at slowly circulating the air in your home and improving the air quality. Some even come with timers that can be set to turn on and off when you are not at home.
3. Candles and Salt Lamps
Both of these pull out moisture from the air and lower the amount of pollutants, allergens and pathogens. But we do not mean regular candles or lamps here. Candles made from natural beeswax produce no toxins when burnt and last for a long time as well. Replace your decorative candles with beeswax candles, preferably unscented ones. You can use essential oils for generating aroma instead. Salt lamps are a similar way to help improve the quality of indoor air. As a bonus they look great too. The salt in these lamps is actually Himalayan pink salt. Do not try to create your own with normal table salt. It is not quite the same. People talk about the spiritual benefits of candles and salt lamps in the home but the scientific reasons are why you should have them in your home. Beeswax candles and Salt lamps are easily available online and in most home décor stores.
4. Activated Charcoal
This cheap product is exceptional in controlling indoor pollution and improving on the air quality. Activated charcoal is a super-absorbent, soaking in toxins and other suspended chemicals from the air while also removing bad odour. You can leave a small bowl in a corner of the room and not have to worry about replacing it for weeks. They can be found online or in pet stores (it is commonly used as a filter material in aquariums). They usually look like small black pellets. Some people may advise crushing them but that is not essential and will only lead to carbon dust. An alternative to activated charcoal is bamboo charcoal. However, it is not as widely available.
5. Keep Shoes Out
Shoes and footwear that you wear outside can bring in more pollutants and toxic chemicals than we can list here. Keep a doormat and remove your shoes when you walk in. As is obvious, clean the doormat regularly to improve on the air quality.
6. Carpet Cleaning
Carpets are the breeding grounds for microbes and a super-magnet for dust. You should ideally avoid thick carpets as they are not suited to an Indian climate. To improve on the air quality, ensure that you clean them regularly. Get them professionally cleaned at least twice a year (more frequently for large families or if you have furry pets).
[You may also read: Best DIY Ways To Get A Clean Carpet]
Many have described the air quality in our largest cities as a “miasma,” a term more closely associated with death and disease clouds in Hollywood fantasy movies. Yet, a death cloud is not far from the truth. Extended exposure to polluted air takes a heavy toll on your body. It is not just your lungs – pollutants can enter and affect other important organs and in extreme cases, even damage DNA, leading to genetic defects that may get passed to children. Since most of us spend almost all our time indoors, this is where we should start with the above 6 ways, to increase the air quality naturally.
[You might also want to read: How To Clean Like A Pro – The Ultimate Home Deep Cleaning Checklist]
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