Like many other UIUC students and people sharing close living quarters during the winter, you may be feeling the implications of dry or poor quality air in your home. With people constantly breathing, dust floating around, and pets to worry about, you may be concerned about the air quality you’re breathing in your home.
In the winter, air quality notoriously gets worse. Why? Titan-air.com says “Because in order to keep the cold out and energy costs down, we’ve made buildings increasingly airtight with improved insulation and high-efficiency windows and doors. Reducing the amount of warm air escaping to the outdoors and the amount of cold outside air getting in means building occupants are breathing a greater amount of recirculated – not fresh – air. In addition to heat, that air carries dust, pollen, mold spores, pollutants, and odors. As these hitchhikers continuously cycle through the building throughout the winter, the concentration of contaminants in the air increases.” Below is some advice to help improve indoor air quality and stop you from worrying.
As a student, you may not love hearing this, but the best way to increase air quality indoors is to keep your space clean. This means dusting window sills, walls, and fan. Wiping down surfaces, and vacuuming. You can do this as often as you like, and the more frequently you do it the cleaner your space is. We recommend twice a week to make a difference in air quality. Titan-air.com also says to “Use non-toxic cleaning products whenever possible. If harsh chemicals are necessary, make sure the area being cleaned is well ventilated to prevent fumes from lingering in the room and on surfaces cleaned with them.”
Increasing ventilation might be the most obvious answer, and one that can be hard to do in the wintertime, but the best way to get clean air into your apartment is to provide it with good ventilation. This can take some convincing when it’s so cold out, but even a few minutes a day of clean air pumping in through an open window can really refresh your apartment and lungs. Signs of bad ventilation are as follows: “condensation on walls or windows, stuffy air, moldy areas, and dirty heating or cooling equipment as well as odors that are most notable when entering the building from the outside.” Some things may need to be cleaned by your landlord and if that’s the case don’t be afraid to let them know.
The extreme dryness of winter also causes your lungs not to feel great breathing in your apartment air and can aid in you continually getting sick in the winter months. A great way to avoid this is by adding humidity to your apartment. Humidifiers prevent dry throats and help control the amount of dust mites, mold, and mildew that you might breath in. Fan-powered humidifiers are regarded as the best for this as they can substantially move through the air in your home as well as the air vents for best circulation.
Seeming like the most obvious fix, adding an air purifier to your home, on top of taking extra steps and precautions on this list, can ensure that the air you are breathing is as clean as possible. There are purifiers that capture gas, odors and chemicals but in the winter months look for filters that capture smaller particles. This way pollen, dander and bacteria are also filtered through.
This may not be the first thing that people think of when they’re looking for ways to keep the air clean in their homes, but we know it’s something that’s trendy and college students are already doing. When you add houseplants to your decor, especially if you have 5 to 10 of them, these plants are constantly pumping clean air into your home. It can help you get rid of toxins and stuffiness and will ease your mind that you’re only breathing in the best. Plus, it helps that they make such great decor!
We know, as much as this pains us to say – candles and incense fill your air with toxins that don’t get released outside as often with closed windows. This aids in the toxic air and is bad for you to breathe long-term. Try a slow-releasing air freshener if you’re looking for something that smells good or use candles limitedly, and make sure to open your window and let some fresh air in after you burn it.
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