Tips For Improving Air Quality While Sheltering In Place
Now that we are all stuck at home, it is a good time to check out our indoor air quality.
What could be polluting the air in your home? Pollutants can include emissions from combustion devices and gas-fired appliances, such space heaters, ranges, ovens, stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, and water heaters; cleaning supplies; pet dander; house dust mites; and mold. In particular, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all constantly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Are we impairing our indoor air quality, and our health, as we try to avoid succumbing to COVID-19?
Take these steps to improve your health:
- Open your windows to increase ventilation in your house, especially in the kitchen when the stove or oven is on.
- Install a HEPA filter in your HVAC system.
- Use a HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner.
- Use a mask and gloves when using cleaning products with chlorine and ammonia.
- If available, choose cleaning products that are labeled “low VOC” or “no VOC,” or are fragrance-free. Also, choosing liquids or pastes instead of sprays for cleaning will disperse fewer emissions of VOCs into the air. Of course, we are lucky to find any cleaning products on the shelves right now in the grocery store.
According to the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (“ASHRAE”), HVAC systems can control indoor humidity and temperature, which can in turn influence transmissibility of infectious agents. The weight of evidence suggests that reducing relative humidity can reduce transmission of certain airborne infectious organisms, including some strains of influenza. See ASHRAE Position Document on Airborne Infectious Diseases.
The U.S. EPA does not recommend relying on an air purifier to protect from COVID-19 in residential settings.
Also, do not use ozone generators in occupied spaces. When used at concentrations that do not exceed public health standards, ozone applied to indoor air does not effectively remove viruses, bacteria, mold, or other biological pollutants.