If you’re spending more time at home than ever before—working from home, cooking, cleaning, socializing virtually, sleeping and relaxing—don’t overlook common air and odor pests that could be lingering in your indoor air.
Everyday living spaces are susceptible to often-invisible nuisances. Let’s take a look at some of the common pollutants frequently found in each room of the house and how you can mitigate them.
Fungus that accumulates on indoor surfaces is referred to as mold or mildew. It needs moisture to survive and reproduces through spores in the air.¹ Because dampness is part of the cause, kitchen appliances, such as dishwashers and refrigerator drip pans, are common sources of buildup.² Be sure to regularly check, clean and dry susceptible kitchen surfaces to get rid of mold and reduce the spread throughout your home.
Volatile organic compounds are organic chemicals that can often be found in household products like air fresheners, surface cleaners, shampoo and perfume.³ These chemicals create odors, evaporate into the air and are linked to a variety of health issues,⁴ so it’s important to practice proper ventilation whenever you’re using these products. Following directions carefully and limiting your consumption can help reduce the effects as well.
You’re likely familiar with dust mites. These tiny pests burrow in bedding, mattresses and fabrics⁵ (gross!). The mites themselves aren’t airborne, but residue like fecal pellets and body fragments create allergens. To keep these to a minimum, reduce humidity levels in your home to less than 50 percent.⁶ Mites thrive on moisture in the air, and without it they can’t survive. It’s also helpful to change your HVAC air filter regularly—at least every 90 days for 1” filters, and at least every 12 months for 4” or 5” filters.
The living room is often a go-to spot when relaxing at home, and it’s frequently carpeted. Some carpet materials can release chemicals after a new installation, so be sure to ask about emissions if you’re purchasing a new one for your household.⁷
During and after the installation, turn on fans and air conditioners to transfer odors to the outdoors. If you currently have a carpet in your space, vacuum frequently to clear out air pollutants like dust mites. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuums can help mitigate these irritants.
Proper ventilation is especially important in basements, crawlspaces and anywhere in the home with limited air flow to create a healthy environment. If not ventilated properly, gas-fueled appliances like furnaces—commonly located in the basement—can become an extremely dangerous hazard.⁸
Regular CO levels in homes fall between 0.5 and 5 ppm.⁹ Since carbon monoxide has no odor, installing a detector is a necessary safety measure to make sure levels stay in the appropriate range. Always keep gas appliances adjusted properly and have a professional come to your home to inspect your furnace each year.
While some degree of indoor air and odor pests are inevitable, being aware of potential trouble spots and ways to prevent or treat issues will help keep your home safer and cleaner.