It's important to be able to breathe good, clean air, no matter if you're in your home or not. Most Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, where some pollutants are often 2-5x higher than typical outdoor concentrations, based on indoor air quality testing by the Environmental Protection Agency.
There are a lot of things people don't know about their apartment's indoor air quality. To help out with that, we've prepared a list of 10 things you should know.
Apartment dwellers face a lot of potential indoor pollution coming from the outdoors. This is due to the fact that a lot of apartment complexes exist in urban areas, where pollution is more commonplace. This pollution usually comes from traffic or industrial buildings. You can keep these toxins to a relative minimum by not using a wood-burning stove or smoking indoors, though if you smoke outdoors, you could still take some inside with you.
Another pollutant that may be a risk for people in apartments is Radon. Radon is present in the atmosphere, but it's not an issue when outdoors due to it being dispersed. However, if Radon gets into your apartment, it could be rather troublesome, as it is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. Be sure to get a Radon detector, as Radon is odorless, tasteless, and completely invisible. The EPA recommends radon mitigation measures if your radon test result is 4 pCi/L or higher. In such cases, a radon mitigation system will help reduce radon concentrations, followed by another radon test within 30 days to ensure that radon levels have been significantly reduced.
On the subject of detectors, you should also make sure that you have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector. You can often find detectors that do both if you want to be efficient with them. Carbon monoxide is highly dangerous, and if not detected in time, it could easily kill you.
No matter how well-maintained your apartment may seem, the truth is that any place can have mold. It all depends on the kinds of circumstances it's undergone. For example, if your apartment was flooded at some point, or if pipes are leaking, there's a chance mold may have developed inside of the walls.
If you suspect you may have mold in your house, one thing you can do is to check for any spots where there appears to be a slimy or fuzzy texture. This may not be easy to find in a lot of cases, and your best bet is going to be to check in vents, basements, attics, and behind wallpaper. Don't let this mold fester, as it can contribute to serious issues, such as asthma. Since mold may not always be visible, conduct indoor air quality testing when in doubt.
While you don't want to let too many outside pollutants into your house, you still need to make sure that your home is well-ventilated. It's important to let your home ventilate, because if it doesn't, indoor pollutants will only be allowed to increase. In an apartment, the best way to ventilate your home is to keep air supply vents clear and employ air cleaning devices.
Ventilation becomes a greater issue during fall and winter when it becomes outside and you have to heat inside, so be more mindful during those months.
A lot of products used indoors use certain organic chemicals, and as such, they are a frequent indoor pollutant. In fact, regardless of whether the home is in a rural or urban area, common organic pollutants are about 2 to 5 times higher inside than outside. When using household products, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and exercise caution.
Believe it or not, despite the fact that the toxic substance asbestos is not allowed in most products and construction, there are a number of old homes that still use asbestos. It is not inherently unsafe to be in such a home, as the asbestos does not create problems if it is not meddled with. Asbestos only becomes an issue if the minerals are released and inhaled, which may occur if something with asbestos used in its production becomes damaged.
This is an interesting issue affecting people in all kinds of homes when it comes to new carpets. The thing of it is, scientists don't really know why these newer carpets are reportedly causing issues with air quality. Thus, when you install a new carpet, be sure to be as diligent as possible. Ask them about emissions, and consider being out of the house before and after the carpet is installed.
Despite how many air quality issues are present outside, the indoor air quality actually tends to be worse than in the outdoors. Air quality levels indoors tend to be 2-5 times worse than outdoors, and in more extreme cases, it can be up to 100 times as bad.
While there are indoor air quality issues for pretty much any type of home, people who live in an apartment have unique issues with it. Perhaps the biggest example of this is the fact that, in most cases, you are not entitled to remodel your apartment in order to make it a safer environment. If you do something like that, you could easily get in trouble with your landlord. And if the apartment has a poor heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, it may be quite a battle to get it improved depending on your landlord.
Because you live in such close proximity to other apartments, you may have to deal with pollutants from other units in the apartment complex. For example, if someone smokes inside of their apartment, the smoke can affect others within the apartment. This is why many apartments do not allow smoking inside, or may even try not to rent to someone who is a frequent smoker.
There are many symptoms that are associated with poor indoor air quality, especially if you spend a lot of your time in your home. If you experience shortness of breath, fatigue, coughing, sneezing, dizziness, headache, or other related symptoms, this may be due to the air quality in your home. To remedy this, employ various tactics to reduce pollutants and improve ventilation.