Apartments are a great option for many people. But even smaller living spaces may need an air quality boost.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, apartments can have the same indoor air problems as single-family homes, including indoor air pollution, inadequate ventilation and mold.*
Another common apartment issue: air quality concerns are frequently out of your control. You can’t fix your building’s ventilation systems, determine maintenance activities or re-install improperly placed outdoor air intakes.
But take heart—and take action. There are several things you can do to ensure your apartment’s air is as healthy as possible.
Reflect on your personal living and cleaning habits. You might be harming your apartment’s air quality without even knowing it. The Cleveland Clinic encourages people to nix candles and incense, irritating perfumes, and strong odors from household cleaners.**
Are you crafty? Paints and glues can throw harmful fumes into the air, so try to work on your projects on a patio or other outdoor space. Vacuum frequently, especially if you have pets. And, if possible, allow dry-cleaned garments to air out before you bring them into your apartment.
Nobody likes stagnant air, especially in a smaller space. Plus, stagnancy can be a sign of unhealthy air quality. Minimize stagnant air by making sure your apartment’s air supply vents aren’t blocked. Typically located in the floor or ceiling, supply vents can be identified when you turn on the system fan and hold a piece of paper in front of the vent—if the air blows out, it’s a supply vent. Move furniture and area rugs away from air supply vents to allow maximum airflow.
If your apartment is feeling particularly stuffy, the EPA suggests opening a window to temporarily increase ventilation.* (Because outdoor air quality can be poor with the presence of pollution or seasonal allergens leaving a window open for more than a few hours can be counterproductive.)
In addition to doing whatever you can in your own apartment to improve air quality, you can encourage the manager of your building to assess the building’s overall air quality health and efficiency.
Doing whatever you can in your own apartment, as well as holding your building’s management accountable, can help you breathe easier. Plus, you’ll know you’re doing everything possible to maximize your dwelling’s air quality.