You have found Air Quality Mechanical’s first official blog entry. Did you know that indoor air quality can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air we breathe outside? So what pollutes our Indoor Air? There are 4 components that contribute to polluted indoor air:
• Chemicals or VOCs
• Particulates or dirt being tracked in or circulated through your HVAC system
• Poor ventilation or an HVAC system that is over insulated and too tight, meaning there is no fresh outdoor air coming in to help freshen the over circulated indoor air
If we wrote about each one in this very first blog you would still be reading 3 days from now. That is how much information there is to share. So we are going to break it down into bite-sized bits and start with what Chemicals or VOCs contribute to unhealthy indoor air and a few easy ways to make a difference in your home.
On our Facebook page we have been posting about VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds and what they are. There are lots of ways to define what a VOC is but the easiest is; they are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature (Wikipedia). There are tons of types but most are either man made or ones that occur in nature. The human-produced type are generally the ones that cause indoor air quality and health issues. But VOCs are also a way for plants to communicate with each other and as a way for plants to communicate with animals and bugs. We have also been posting on Facebook about house plants that can combat VOCs but today we will get more in depth and tackle a couple of chemicals that are found in 75 to 95% of household cleaning products, paints and so much more. If you search the internet you can find recipes for household cleaners and detergents to help reduce some of the chemicals and we will give you the names of a few plants that you can incorporate into your home, even a couple that the darkest of black thumbs can rarely kill.
Two of the most common compounds are Formaldehyde and Benzene. We will try to simplify what these chemicals are and some of the products they are used in. Formaldehyde and benzene are both found in the items listed below but please understand that this is in no way a complete list but instead just some items commonly found in homes.
• Detergents-dish, laundry and hand soap.
• Fragrance products that are under pressure and in aerosol form.
• Fragrant candles, oils and melting wax scent products.
• Fabric softeners in sheet, liquid and pellet forms.
• Styrofoam packing materials and packing peanuts.
• Glues—epoxy, Super Glue and glue.
• Adhesives—Tape, packing tape, adhesive strips and even the adhesive on sticky notes.
• Household cleaning products including Oven Cleaners, Bathroom & Kitchen Cleaners.
• Tobacco smoke especially when exhaled has a large amount of benzene.
If you “sniff” around on the Internet there are tons of DIY recipes for household cleaners as well as commercially made products. Pinterest is a great source for a lot of information. If shopping at the grocery store make sure to read the ingredients and look for the EcoLogo which was created by the Federal Government in 1988. There are some 7,000 approved products out there. Just a few small changes like changing your laundry detergent and some household products can help to rid your personal environment of a lot of toxins.
Another way to help clean up your indoor air quality is to add a few plants to your home. Aloe Vera absorbs a lot of formaldehyde and loves a warm, sunny kitchen window ledge. It is also great for the occasional kitchen burn or sun burn. Spider plants are so hardy, they are almost impossible to kill and suck up a lot of VOCs. The Snake plant, aka Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is a great plant to have in your bedroom as it needs very little direct sunlight and at night it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, helping make your nighttime ZZZs a little healthier. Bamboo palms need little care and are great humidifiers. They do well in shady areas and eliminate a lot of benzene and carbon dioxide. For some pretty additions you can ask at your local nursery for Gerber daisies and Chrysanthemums. You just want to be sure to ask for the household variety, not the garden variety.
So now that you are taking the initiative to keep your indoor air quality healthier don’t forget that the easiest way is by changing your HVAC system air filter and by doing that monthly you won’t have to make your own laundry detergent or sleep with a Snakes Tongue unless you want to. Keeping your home’s HVAC system clean is vital to your indoor air quality. It really is the “lungs” of your home. Keep your filters changed on a regular basis, get your furnace and A/C cleaned yearly and if you have a family member with breathing problems getting the duct work cleaned every few years will help immensely. Sometimes it can be overwhelming but these are small changes you can make for you and your family.
Keep checking back as we will keep posting great ideas. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give the office a call at 406-721-7018 if you have any questions or would like an estimate on duct cleaning or cleaning your HVAC system.