Arizona Indoor Air Quality Guide
Anyone who lives in Arizona knows how sweltering the state’s summers can be, and that the heat doesn’t just disappear when the summer ends. While the US southwest’s dry heat is precisely what some people love, it is, unfortunately, not beneficial when it comes to maintaining clean, healthy air. Air quality decreases during extended heat waves, which is bad news in AZ’s largely desert state. Little can be done to adjust the outdoor heat or air quality, but indoors, you have a bit more control over the cleanliness of the air you’re breathing. Learning about indoor air quality in AZ is the first step to helping your lungs breathe easy year-round in one of America’s hottest states.
Indoor Air Pollutants
The first step to understanding air quality within your home is understanding the presence of pollutants. Every home has contaminants, though some may have more than others. Contaminants usually fall into four categories:
- Asthma triggers
- Combustion pollutants
Asthma triggers are, by and large, the most prominent source of pollutants in most homes. This category includes pet dander, dust, pollen, mold, and secondhand smoke. For the 25 million Americans diagnosed with asthma, these pollutants may cause coughing and difficulty breathing. For another 50 million Americans with allergies, these same pollutants can lead to sneezing, itching, and general hay fever symptoms.
Combustion pollutants consist of particles from unventilated or poorly ventilated heating appliances such as dryers, furnaces, space heaters, fireplaces, and water heaters. The amount of pollutants produced depends on the machine in question and ventilation measures.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are pollutants that originate from a wide array of household products. These include paints, pesticides, household cleaning products, air fresheners, and even dry-cleaned clothing. They can irritate the eyes, throat, and nose and lead to headaches in high amounts.
Radon is from the soil around a home. It’s a radioactive gas that may find its way indoors via cracks in a home’s walls and floors and is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers within the United States.
Reducing the number of pollution sources within your home is always the right place to start, but it’s not always a practical move. Some of the most common home appliances, such as dryers and water heaters, create pollutants, and doing away with them entirely is beyond impractical. Fortunately, you can take plenty of other EPA-recommended steps to control your Arizona indoor air quality.
While you may not be able (or willing) to remove the water heater, the dryer, or the gas stove from your home, you can choose to ventilate them better. On days when the weather allows, consider opening windows or doors to ventilate your home a bit better. Of course, Arizona is hot, and leaving windows open all day can quickly rack up your air conditioning bill. If your energy expenditure is a concern, consider using exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom and running your air conditioner with the vent control open to boost indoor ventilation throughout the day.
Next, keep in mind that your HVAC unit is responsible for circulating air throughout your home. Keep your HVAC system clean to keep your home’s air cleaner. For most, this means remembering to change the air filter regularly, as highlighted on the packaging of the filter you use. Depending on the type, this could be every 30 days or every three months. Additionally, consider investing in a UV sanitization system for your home. These systems help eliminate viruses, mold, and bacteria that filters can’t contain.
Fortunately, humidity isn’t an issue that few homeowners in AZ have to worry about. Most of the state has a dry heat. However, for homes that might live in damper areas, it’s crucial to keep humidity under control to reduce mold growth. Ideally, indoor humidity should be kept between 30 and 50 percent. Either ventilate to reduce humidity or use a humidifier to raise it when necessary.
Some other steps you should consider taking to improve your home’s air quality include:
- Having your home tested for radon
- Don’t allow smoking inside of your home or car
- Clean your home regularly
- Inspect heat-creating appliances regularly
- Clean up and repair water leaks as soon as possible
- If you spot any mold, clean it up immediately
- Wash bedding weekly, preferably in hot water
- Keep household pests under control
- Always ventilate when using products that create VOCs
- Consider investing in a carbon monoxide detector
Finally, invest in regular inspections by an HVAC professional in Phoenix, AZ. While you may be unable to spot issues with your HVAC system that could be contributing to the low air
quality within your home, a trained eye can spot problems like dirty, moldy coils or a bacteria-infested drain pan and recommend solutions to you in no time. Each of these steps helps to boost the quality of air within your AZ home and ensure that you, your family, and your guests are safe and breathing clean, healthy air year-round.
Get the Clean Air You Deserve
Removing pollutants from your home and keeping them out can seem like a huge challenge, but you aren’t alone. Contact Howard Air for more information on how you can control the presence of pollutants within your home and create a preventative plan to keep the air in your home as clean and pure as possible in the coming years. You may not be able to control the Arizona heat or the air pollution that comes along with it, but with the right tools and a team of experienced professionals on your side, you’ll have full control of your home’s indoor air quality in no time.
Featured Image: Shutterstock / Hung Chung Chih
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