Is the Air in Your Home Safe?

Julie
Is the Air in Your Home Safe?

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. That percentage is even higher for older individuals.

For decades, indoor air quality has been a health issue. In 1987, the EPA estimated that some pollutants are often two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has elevated concerns about indoor air hygiene.

Monitoring Indoor Air Quality

New technology allows individuals to monitor and address the quality of air in their homes. This is particularly important for people with respiratory or cardiac conditions.

Until recently, most efforts to measure and alter indoor air related to climate—controlling the temperature and humidity.  Now, smart homes can be outfitted with sensors to detect and measure airborne particulates like oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, dust, and more.

Some units can measure humidity and identify conditions that encourage mold growth, while others can detect radon.

Challenges

While some monitors are stand-alone devices, others can be incorporated into smart-home systems.

The market for these devices is still developing, and the particulates monitored vary wildly, as do the price of the units. None have sensors for all potentially harmful particulates, so the device(s) you select should simultaneously address your specific air quality concerns and your budget.

Cleaning the Air in Your Home

Selecting air purification products can also be challenging.

There are single-room air purifiers and whole-house systems. You can also select from manually operated units or units designed to automatically turn on when specific air quality parameters are reached in a smart-home environment.

Some units use activated carbon and HEPA filters, while others effectively and safely use contained UV light to kill bacteria and viruses from the air, similar to UV sterilization robots used in hospital settings.

What About Outdoor Air Pollution?

Sometimes, indoor air quality can be improved with better ventilation and air exchange. But what if opening your windows will degrade the quality of air in your home?

Outdoor air conditions can be tracked online at airnow.gov. Some smartphone weather apps incorporate similar data. Additionally, some indoor air quality monitors include internet-based reports on the quality of air in your area from the device’s screen or an app interface.