Boost your immune system by improving air quality at home
Did you know that you can improve your health by breathing in good air quality? In a bustling condensed city like Hong Kong where air street pollution is mainly caused by vehicles and regional smog coming from power plants and marine vessels, it can be a challenge to breathe in good, quality air.
The great news is, you can actually do something to improve the air you breathe. Your home is your best defense against these pollutants. This is where you spend most of your time, especially now that majority are working from home. Likewise, good air also has an effect on your sleep quality, productivity levels, and your body’s ability to rejuvenate.
At a time where the country’s political climate and health issues are taking a toll on everyone’s minds, your well-being should be your top priority by breathing in good air quality.
Maintaining your place in its clean state to keep allergic reactions from occurring is one thing that can help you address other health issues. You can ensure your home has breathable air by checking these qualities: temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2) dust and particulates, and finally, chemicals from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
Safeguard your health and wellness by looking into these simple home fixes that can help improve air quality and boost your immune system.
1. Check your home temperature
Have you ever noticed why there are some parts of your house that have cooler temperature, and some are relatively warm or humid? The difference in temperature drastically affects the mood and energy of the people living in your home. Say for example: if it’s cool, it is easier to relax and fall asleep. But if a room is hot, it’s harder to focus on your work because it will make you feel uncomfortable. Similarly, some people who are sensitive to changes may develop headaches or migraines.
The best way to regulate temperature in your home is insulation. Insulation also plays a factor in your home temperature as it reduces heat transfer coming from outside your home and manages the temperature and moisture inside.
If you are renovating your home, then it is best to go for double glazed windows with low emissivity (low-E) glass which helps reduce the amount of ultraviolet (UV) light associated with heat transfer and improve thermal efficiency at home.
If you are renovating, simply adding a heat reflecting window film, or a sheer curtain that you can close during the day will help shield your home from too much air temperature outside. Consider having small gaps in your windows sealed as much as possible.
If your A/C tends to become too cold or hot and often needs manual adjustments, you can consider a small external thermometer that will always keep your A/C temperature regulated to your desired comfort level by detecting your smart phone.
2. Check humidity
A clear tell-tale sign that you home has poor humidity and bad air quality is if you have trouble falling asleep or having difficulty in breathing. Too much or too little humidity is bad for your health. The ideal relative humidity for health and comfort is between 30-50%. This can be extremely hard to regulate in humid climates. High humidity in the home creates the ideal breeding ground for mold, dust mites and bed bugs. If you live in tropical climate or next to large bodies of water, humidity can easily become a hazard if not controlled in tropical weather.
Solution: Thermo ventilator & dehumidification in tropical climates
Thermo ventilators are great in ventilation, air circulation, and clothes drying. Even if it’s not in use, they will do a better job at insulating and letting outdoor air in than a ventilation fan. It is recommended to use your thermo ventilator on the right setting and for a sufficient amount of time to remove humidity and also to dry wet surfaces as necessary. Add thermo ventilators to all bathrooms and laundry rooms to control overall home humidity.
If you are drying laundry indoors, use a dryer with sufficiently sealed exhaust. Whilst if you are air drying indoors, it is best to keep your laundry in an isolated area with closed doors and use a dehumidifier.
During humid times of the year or when it is raining, avoid stagnant air by turning your A/C on dry mode for light dehumidification in less used areas and keep good air circulation going with mechanical ventilation, fans or by keeping the window open with good cross ventilation when it is not raining.
3. Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
Increased levels of Co2 can cause drowsiness, decrease in concentration, headaches, dizziness and breathing difficulties. The main causes of increased CO2 in homes are overcrowding, insufficient fresh air exchange and fossil fuel combustion. In Hong Kong, we are often overcrowded, we rarely open our windows to “save energy” and use gas and fire for cooking. These are all big no no’s for good air quality.
Solution: Change split type A/C to duct type
Although we may not have the option to remove family members, one thing that can be done is to change your split type A/C with a duct type that brings in fresh air from outside. This would be the best way to both regulate temperature and remove CO2. In situations where this may not be possible, keep your window slightly open to bring in fresh air from outside. However, this may be counterproductive when it comes to controlling humidity and heat. Lastly, when cooking with gas stove, use an exhaust fan to remove CO2 build up. As well, when burning candles or indoor fireplaces always keep a window open.
4. Minimise dust and particulate matters and viruses
Household dusts are composed of different things: it can be made from pollutants, animal/insect waste, food particles, lint, paper particles, almost anything that you consider waste inside your home that’s broken into tiny pieces. If left unchecked, these tiny particles can be inhaled and overtime, cause health problems such as allergies to breakout.
Solution: Regular dusting and vacuuming
An easy solution to maintain a clean home is to regular dusting, such as cleaning surfaces with damp cloth to ensure small particles will not float in the air. Regular vacuuming, especially if you have pets at home, is a must to avoid dust piling in your home. Sealing any cracks in your windows and doors is recommended to ensure small dusts and particles from outside will not enter your home. To reduce the spread of airborne bacterials and viruses, a HEPA air filter can help to control spread.
Your home is your sanctuary. This is where you spend most of your time. Your wellness of being is dependent on your immediate surroundings and to take care of your health and well being is to take care and manage the cleanliness of your home.
5. Watch out for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Are you familiar with the smell of a new home? If you are smelling this at home you may be breathing in harmful emissions called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Formaldehyde is also another harmful emission that is completely odourless. VOCs are composed of various home odours found in many household cleaning agents, paints and adhesives while formaldehyde resides in various building materials including plywood. Immediate exposure can trigger health concerns such as eyes, nose, and throat irritation and can affect your wellness at day and quality of sleep at night.
Solution: Use low VOC materials
Prevent harmful chemicals from entering your home in the first place by renovating with low VOC materials, stay away from unfinished plywood furniture, purchase wood furniture with natural coatings and stay away from painted and lacquered furniture.
If the toxins are already in your home, then consider flushing it out with fresh air by opening the windows and adding fans on the toxic surfaces if they cannot be removed. Also, natural VOC removal sprays may help to reduce but will not completely get rid of these harmful emissions. Note that air purifiers will not be effective to remove harmful emissions for large pieces of furniture, and it is more effective to open windows in this case. Also, when using cleaning agents consider using certified green cleaning products and always open windows during and after use.
Once all measures have been taken to improve air quality as above, then you may optimise your air quality with an air purifier. Don’t just use an air purifier without dusting or to use over a moldy wall with water leakage. It’s always better to remove harmful sources first
While ensuring your home is dust-free, you can help boost good air quality and at the same time, keep your health in optimum shape.
Investing in a quality air purifier also strengthens your home defense against viruses like COVID-19 by filtering out air particulate matter or emitting germ-deactivating ions to limit the spread of viruses and bacteria.
Pro-tip: it is highly recommended to place your air purifiers in the bedroom to ensure good quality sleep and strengthen the immune system. An air purifier doesn’t only improve air quality, it also makes your body regenerate properly.
Also consider where you are going to place it inside your home to improve the quality of air where most family members are gathering, such as kitchens and living rooms.
You can also place an air purifier in your work area, which can promote greater clarity and concentration while doing your work.
We will dive into the best air purifiers and consider three different filters which has their own uses and disadvantages:
Recommended for: People who have pets
A pre-filter is a washable filter that captures large particles from the air. Think of it as your main filter’s first line of defense. It is important that before you purchase an air purifier, it should also come with a pre-filter. Using pre-filters maximise the lifespan of your air purifier, and also saves you money in the long run.
2. Pure HEPA
Recommended for: reducing viral concentration
Pure High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) or Pure HEPA, is the most effective air purifier that can capture about 99.97% of particles about (0.3 micron in diameter). It can remove dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles. Coincidentally, COVID-19 is 0.12 microns, a size easily filtered and captured by a Pure HEPA filter.
It should have a clean air delivery rate or CADR of 240. Make sure to double check the packaging for three ratings: smoke, dust, and pollen. Generally, these represent small, medium, and large particles to ensure that air quality inside your space is clean and minimise allergic triggers.
3. Activated Carbon
Recommended for: removing tobacco smoke, VOCs, drying paint, cleaning products and other odours.
Carbon filter traps the harmful gases on a bed of activated carbon and undergoes chemical processing to make it efficient at trapping gas molecules. It uses ad-sorption, which means the pollutants are actually stuck on the surface of the carbon allowing the material to filter gases from the air.
Here are more pro-tips to consider when buying your air purifier to make your quality of living healthier:
1. Check the mechanics – Ensure that your air purifier can filter 99.97% and above.
2. Find the right size for your space – When choosing an air purifier for your home, you also have to ensure that it is the right fit for your space. Carefully study and look into the supplier’s information. Also another thing to note is, if your space is big, you will need a bigger air purifier. A bigger air purifier entails higher air speed, which means it will generate more noise.
3. Maintain your air purifiers – You can do this by changing filters. Make sure that you check your filters regularly to effectively trap pollutants circulating inside your house.
4. Buy a stock filter – It is better to buy filters in bulk. This way you will be able to save money in the long run.
5. Choose concealed type – If you are looking for a model to connect to your duct type ventilation system then select a model such as IQAIR Health PRO. This is made to be fitted to mechanical air systems. This way you may save floor space.
In one of our projects, we were able to incorporate an internal air purification, concealed. This helps to remove dust, chemicals and VOCs and ensures that outdoor pollutants don’t enter the home.
We concealed it inside cabinets, walls, and ceilings to free up space. To make it stylish, we made a custom decorative pattern called louvers.
We greatly prioritise our client’s health and wellness needs without sacrificing style and quality. Our client has respiratory and skin allergies. Plus, they have a newborn baby and wanted to ensure good air quality inside their home after the renovation.
6. If you are renovating your space, upgrade your air purifier to a thermo ventilator – Thermo ventilators regulate air temperature and humidity. It also has an energy-saving feature that gives you greater return of investment for your money. Thermo ventilators are a common occurrence in Hong Kong’s standard flats.
We prioritise healthy and eco-friendly ergonomic features that will benefit your household for many years to come. We recommend using these types of thermo ventilators. Any model is better than the regular ventilation fans, but the premium models are quieter and even have auto deodorizing functions.
It is recommended to place your thermo ventilator in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and storage rooms, or other areas in your home where there is a high concentration of humidity (not recommended for the kitchen area). They are better for insulation, thus saving energy in the long term by regulating air temperature and keeping air conditioning costs down.
If it’s not possible for you to get a thermo ventilator, a stand-alone one will also do. If your budget allows, a concealed type of thermo ventilator in the ceiling duct is a better option.
You become what you breathe. At the end of the day, an air purifier should be your last line of defense in your sanctuary against harmful pollutants and viruses. Your home is your best defense against these pollutants. Keep you and your family safe and maintain the cleanliness of your home always to ensure health and worry-free longevity.