Homes Are Not Built For Humans
Air Quality Canada
December 1, 2020
5 Minute Read
The Truth About Indoor Air: Homes Are Not Built For Humans
With allergies and asthma steadily on the increase and troubling levels of air pollution in the world, not to mention the current pandemic we find ourselves in, you likely wish to stay indoors to keep safe. But you could also find that the quality of air and water in your home is as bad - if not worse - than outside.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, it became the trend in homebuilding to make properties airtight. This served to make them warm in winter, cool in summer, and more energy efficient. The problem with an airtight home is that it stops air from being able to circulate. If the home can’t breathe, neither can the occupant.
A lack of air circulation also means that dirty air brought into the property from outside sits in your property, and is breathed by the occupants. In order to manage your health, it’s as important to look at the air you breathe and the water you drink as it is your diet and exercise.
The Truth About Indoor Air Quality
Air pollution is what happens when gasses or particles that are not usually found in the air are in numbers great enough to affect air quality. While we know about the damage to the environment of external pollution, it’s just as possible for the air in your home to be polluted.
While outdoor air can enter the home when doors and windows open, the home is also a hotbed of allergens such as pet fur and dander, dust, and mold. Furniture and carpets can often release chemicals into the air, as well as building materials.
Clean and regular air flow is vital in order to ensure that pollutants and irritants are cleared out. Without this, your indoor air becomes increasingly polluted, allowing allergens, smells, and irritants to bombard you.
So what can you do to improve the quality of your indoor air to let your home - and yourself - breathe?
A heat recovery ventilation unit is a great way to encourage healthy airflow around your house. The unit is placed in either a loft or insulated area of your home. Inside the system, you’ll find that one side is responsible for “dry” rooms, such as the living room and bedrooms, while the other is responsible for “wet” rooms like the bathroom and kitchen.
The system works to send warm fresh air to the dry rooms while extracting the heated, moist air from the wet rooms via one set of ducts. This goes through a heat exchanger so that you now have cold stale air being expelled to the outside.
The HRV System removes stale air and creates a system of cross ventilation across your whole house, and drastically improves the quality of air that you breathe.
Air Purification Systems
An air purification system is particularly useful if you suffer from allergies and asthma. Typically, an air purifier will reduce the number of particles and pollutants in the air, meaning that it’s much fresher for you to breathe.
Harmful bacteria can enter the air from household surfaces, pets, or the outside world. Airborne viruses, such as flu virus particles, can be coughed or sneezed from person to person, and a lack of hand washing can also increase the bacteria in your home. An air purifier reduces the risk that any of these bacteria are in a hospitable enough environment to multiply and make you sick.
Inhaling something like mold can also cause serious illnesses. Common side effects of breathing in mold spores include allergies, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue. Air purifiers trap these spores in its filters, preventing them from being able to stick to your walls or reproduce.
Water Filtration Systems
Finally, it’s not just the air that you breathe that should be pure. Often the water coming from your tap is packed full of contaminants which can not only affect the taste and smell but can also seriously trouble those who suffer from allergies.
In its most basic form, a water filter decontaminates water either through a biological or chemical process to remove the toxins, or through using a physical barrier which serves to stop anything getting through that should not. Water filters can create a huge benefit for those consuming the water, as it allows impurities such as lead to be filtered out immediately, as well as cutting down on bacteria and chlorine that often enters the water stream.
Some of the most common elements removed from water are:
- Arsenic: Recognized as a carcinogenic, arsenic has been connected to an increased risk of many types of cancer, and can be found in dangerously high levels in tap water
- Aluminum: Unfiltered municipal water can contain the metal aluminum, which has been linked to a variety of health concerns such as hyperactivity, skin problems, liver disease, and Alzheimer’s disease
- DBPs: Otherwise known as Disinfection Byproducts, these can be left in the water after it has been disinfected with chlorine, and can cause sickness
- Chlorine: While chlorine is used to disinfect water, it is itself known as a carcinogenic
- Fluoride: Too much exposure to fluoride can lead to a huge range of health problems, such as a compromised immune system
Drinking clean, filtered water is vitally important when it comes to protecting your body from diseases, as well as dramatically increasing your general health. Research has found that filtered water reduces the risk of gastrointestinal disease and helps children to develop strong immune systems.
From the point of view of sustainability, water filtration also means that you are cutting down on your plastic waste, which is vital for the future of the planet. As plastic waste continues to the point of being an epidemic, water filtration can be good for you as well as the environment.