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How the Air Quality in Your Apartment is Making You Sick

If you’re like most people, you probably spend the majority of your time indoors. And if you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about the quality of the air you’re breathing until you start to feel sick. Believe it or not, indoor air is often the culprit, as it can be full of all sorts of pollutants, from dust and mold to VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Poor indoor air quality is a common problem in the multifamily sphere, and it’s one that can have serious consequences for the health of both your residents and staff.

Especially when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic and the oncoming flu season, air quality has become a much hotter topic than ever before. But, it’s not just about avoiding the COVID-19 virus; poor indoor air quality can also exacerbate allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.

This is important to keep in mind not just for the inside of your residential units, but all the spaces of the multifamily complex you’re developing or managing. Here are some things you should know about indoor air quality in apartments:

  • Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors1, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations2.
  • People who are often most susceptible to the adverse effects of pollution (e.g., the very young, older adults, people with cardiovascular or respiratory disease) tend to spend even more time indoors3.
  • Indoor concentrations of some pollutants have increased in recent decades due to such factors as energy-efficient building construction (when it lacks sufficient mechanical ventilation to ensure adequate air exchange) and increased use of synthetic building materials, furnishings, personal care products, pesticides, and household cleaners.

Signs of Poor Indoor Air Quality

So how can you tell if you’re dealing with poor indoor air quality? Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to test air quality without spending a little money on an air quality monitor, but there are also some telltale physical signs that something might be wrong, such as:

  • Visible mold or mildew
  • Musty odors
  • Excessive dust
  • Throat irritation
  • Nasal congestion
  • Watering eyes
  • Coughing or difficulty breathing

Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action to improve the indoor air quality in your apartment. The first step is to identify the source of the problem. Common sources of indoor air pollution include:

  • Dust mites: Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in warm, humid environments. They are often found in bedding, carpets, and upholstered furniture. Dust mites feed on dead skin cells and their feces can trigger allergies and asthma attacks.
  • Pet dander: If you have pets, their dander (shed skin cells) can also trigger allergies and asthma attacks.
  • Mold and mildew: Mold and mildew thrive in damp, dark places. They can cause respiratory problems and other health issues.
  • Cigarette smoke: Cigarette smoke is a known carcinogen and can cause a variety of health problems, including respiratory illnesses, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Household cleaning products: Many common household cleaners contain chemicals that can be harmful to your health and cause skin or lung issues. Check out our Guide to Nontoxic Cleaning Products to learn more.

Solutions to Improve Air Quality

Often, it’s not something that anyone can change to the general air quality of the building. You can practice temporary reliefs, such as opening windows, or spending more time outside, but often, buildings alone are the problem. This is why indoor air quality is something very important to consider when choosing your next home.

There are a few simple things you can do to improve the indoor air quality in your apartment and keep yourself healthy:

  • Dust regularly: Dust mites thrive in dusty environments. By dusting regularly, you can reduce their numbers and help keep your home clean.
  • Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming also helps to remove dust mites and other allergens from your home. Be sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap as many particles as possible.
  • Keep indoor plants: Plants help to purify the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. They also help to reduce mold and mildew growth.
  • Use an air purifier: Air purifiers help to remove dust, pollen, and other allergens from the air. Be sure to choose one that is specifically designed for apartments.
  • Don’t smoke indoors: Cigarette smoke is a known carcinogen and can cause a variety of health problems. If you smoke, do so outdoors to protect yourself and others from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
  • Review your personal care and household cleaning products:  Many of these products contain chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Look for products that are labeled “organic” or “natural.”
  • Swap out your air filter regularly: Air filters in your home are the first line of defense to protect your HVAC system from contaminants coming from the inside of your home

Delos, a science-based company committed to ensuring our indoor spaces are healthier places to live, work and play, has numerous solutions to improve indoor air quality. From air purifiers to a more all-encompassing Stay Well system, Delos has a product (or several!) that will fit the needs of your multifamily residential complex. Even better, they go beyond just providing products and will work with you directly to develop the solution you need.

By keeping indoor air quality in mind, you can find an innovative way to differentiate your property from the rest, and give residents a healthier, happier place to call home. Whether that’s by furnishing your common areas with plenty of plants or investing in heavy duty air purifiers,  apartment dwellers will thank you for your efforts to improve their indoor air quality!

By passing on and following these simple tips, you can improve the indoor air quality in your property and keep yourself and renters healthy!

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