Air quality trends show that Florida’s air quality has consistently improved over the past few decades, with pollution levels continuing to decline steadily since at least 2000. While this is good news for the state as a whole, it doesn’t necessarily exonerate home dwellers from sharing some responsibility. As warned by the EPA, the air quality in many American homes is up to five times worse than the air quality outside. This is owing to the many toxins that we unwittingly bring into our homes. What are some of the most common culprits, and what steps can you take to eliminate them from your dwellings?
Common Pollutants In Florida
Some of the biggest problems causing a build-up of toxins indoors include bacteria, fungi, and volatile organic compounds from skincare products, perfumes, household cleaners and paint, as well as dust mites, pollen and allergens. Additional sources include the formaldehydes emitted by soft furnishings containing flame retardants, carpets and pressed wood furniture. Popular items such as paraffin candles can also significantly hamper air quality. A study by researchers at South Carolina State University found that burning these candles releases harmful fumes (toluene and benzene), which are linked to lung cancer, asthma, and other health problems.
Air Filtration Can Help
If replacing all furniture in one go is impossible, or you live in a household with smokers, then you can take steps to mitigate damage by choosing the best air purifier for smoke and VOCs. Bear in mind that even if smokers head to a terrace or garden to smoke, air can blow inwards, bringing in the toxic cocktail contained in cigarettes. When selecting an air purifier, a quality HEPA filter is a good choice, since these filters are able to trap particles as tiny as 0.3 microns in size. HEPA filters essentially act like a vacuum bag, but they operate quietly in the background. One study published in the American College of Cardiology found that air purification can reduce smoke particulate matter by close to 60% within hours. If you live in a wood-filled or forestry area, a good purifier will also defend your home in the event of wildfire smoke.
Bringing The Great Outdoors Inside
You can also help improve your indoor air quality by filling your home with indoor plants. Hang them from the ceiling, place decorative pots in strategic corners of your living spaces, and consider building a vertical ‘living wall’ to separate indoor spaces. A study by P Pegas and colleagues found that potted plants were able to decrease pollution levels by around 30%. The study corroborated similar research previously undertaken by NASA, indicating that indoor plants can make interior breathing spaces healthier.
If you live in Florida, then the good news is that the sunny state is increasingly improving its outdoor air quality. Keeping your indoor air quality in good shape, however, involves a bit of work of your own. This should include eliminating soft furnishings and pressed wood furniture containing formaldehyde and other toxins, investing in a good air filter, and filling your home with life-enhancing plants.