Updated: Sep 14
Considering Gov. Tom Wolf’s order asking residents of Allegheny County to stay home for everything but essential trips for things such as food and medicine in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, your friends at GASP thought it might be an opportune time to talk about how to improve indoor air quality.
For folks who suffer from seasonal allergies or have respiratory ailments, triggers can be a real problem when chillier weather has doors and windows shuttered. And now that everyone is spending a whole lot more time inside, understanding how to eliminate allergy and asthma triggers is even more imperative.
The good news: You can easily improve the air quality in your home by taking some simple steps:
Clean, Clean, Clean!
Things like dust and pet dander are some of the usual suspects when it comes to seasonal allergies, so ramp up the frequency of chores like dusting and vacuuming to keep those triggers at bay – once or twice a week is recommended.
It’s also a great idea to wipe down blinds and ceiling fans and launder bedding and drapes, which tend to trap allergens that will have you sneezing and reaching for your inhaler. When cleaning hard surfaces, it’s generally advised that folks use natural cleansers that have less-harsh fumes.
However, if you are disinfecting your home during the Covid-19 outbreak, please know that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published a list of approved products that will kill the virus.
Change Those Filters
With so much going on, it’s easy to forget to change the filters in your furnace and air conditioning systems, which is crucial to improving your indoor air quality. And don’t forget about ductwork: Having it cleaned can make a big difference, too. For those who need some advice on those fronts, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has this handy guide.
Consider an Air Purifier
Running an air purifier in the most-used areas of your home can help you get rid of those allergens that you really can’t eliminate (dander from your beloved four-legged friend, or cooking fumes, for example).
Air purifiers range in price and functionality, but since folks are asked to stay home, we wanted to let you know about a DIY air purifier that requires only a box fan and a standard HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. Note: HEPA filters run about $25-$35 and can be purchased at local hardware stores and on Amazon.
Forego Indoor Fireplaces
While crackling flames can certainly add ambiance, studies have shown that homes with wood-burning fireplaces have elevated levels of indoor air pollution. With nighttime temperatures expected to dip into the 30s now and then over the next week or so, use your furnace instead of lighting a fire to keep the air you and your family breathe a little cleaner.
Peruse Some Helpful Resources for More Tips
Our friends at Women For a Healthy Environment have created these helpful infographics on the best ways to clean and disinfect your home.
Pittsburgh-based ROCIS (Reducing Outdoor Contaminants in Indoor Spaces) also has a number of helpful resources.