If you’re suffering from the winter blues, it may not just be the shorter days and the cold causing distress. Bad quality indoor air may be the culprit. For instance, mold can pollute the air. There are links between mold in your home and depression.
That’s not all the health issues that bad indoor air may cause. You can suffer from some of the following symptoms if your indoor home air is dirty or dry:
- Chest tightness.
- Sore throat.
- Water or itchy eyes.
- Shortness of breath.
- Chronic asthma attacks.
- Frequent headaches.
That’s not all. Dry winter air can also cause:
- Long lasting and more frequent colds.
- Dry skin, hair, and eyes.
- Frequent nose bleeds.
Indoor air pollution, therefore, can be harmful to anyone. Those particularly at risk include:
- Asthma or allergy sufferers.
Long-term exposure to bad winter indoor air can even lead to more serious health issues later. It’s important, then, to make sure your winter indoor air quality is as free of pollution as possible. It’ll prevent you and your loved ones from getting sick. It may also help you overcome any blues about winter.
The Causes of Bad Winter Indoor Air Quality
If you’re like anyone who can’t stand the winter, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time inside your home. The average person stays indoors 90 percent of the time. This exposes you to the indoor air and all of its pollutants inside your home.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says pollutants found indoors can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. The EPA adds that indoor air pollutants may occasionally be at levels more than 100 times higher than they are outside. That’s true of Canada, too. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates that indoor air quality can be up to 110 percent worse than outdoor air.
Most modern homes have had all insulation cracks sealed to prevent heat loss and wasted energy. However, this also seals off the fresh air, and traps and increases the amount of dust, allergens and pollutants floating around in the air. Those things can contribute to your winter blues.
What Sources of Pollutants Dirty the Air?
Many sources inside the home cause pollution. It’s important to make sure you know where these pollutants come from to help keep your house clean. Knowing the sources can help you take action to help alleviate your winter depression.
Pollutants may be caused by:
- Building materials and furnishings. Insulation, carpeting, cabinetry and furniture made from pressed wood may release or contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), mold and dust mites.
- Household cleaning and maintenance products. This includes personal care products. Air fresheners, for instance, actually release pollutants into the air.
- Any household appliances that are combustion sources. If your appliances use oil, gas, kerosene, coal or wood (such as a wood-burning furnace), they can dirty the air. Make sure these appliances are in tip-top working order and properly adjusted to reduce pollutants.
- Pets. Animal dander from pets with fur or feathers can cause allergies and asthma to flare up. Just like people, pets may not go outside as often when the weather is bad or cold. That increases the overall indoor air pollution.
- Hobby or home improvement projects that use paint, adhesives and varnish. If you sand or weld in and around your home, this produces pollution, too.
- Outdoor sources such as radon, pollen and lead. These items either occur in the soil and seep into your home, or are brought in by people or pets.
With those things in your home, that could be the source of much of your despair.
Improving Winter Indoor Air Quality In Your Home
Improving your indoor air quality is key to not getting sick and staying happy. One of the ways to do that is keeping your house clean and removing or reducing the sources of pollution.
- Make sure your floors and carpets are clean. Keep them clean longer by having everyone remove their winter boots and shoes before coming indoors.
- Ensure your heating and air conditioning system is clean.
- Avoid using chemical cleaners and aerosols. These contain pollutants.
- Use fans to keep air circulating.
- Open your windows briefly once a week.
- Discourage smoking in your home.
Control Your Home’s Humidity
Another way to improve your home’s air quality, and your health and happiness, is to adjust the humidity levels in your home. If you have proper humidity levels, you’ll feel better at a lower temperature. You’ll save on fuel costs and help the environment as well. Good humidity also can improve your dry winter skin.
The EPA recommends keeping your indoor humidity within the 30 to 50 percent range. Don’t let the air get too humid, though. Going over 50% can cause mold, mildew and bacteria to breed.
Get a Good Air Filtration and Purification System
If you don’t already have one, get a whole-home filtration and purification unit over cheaper stand-alone humidifiers and air purifiers. The latter items only take care of a room or part of a room. A whole-home unit, as the name implies, treats your entire house. You’ll clear the dust and dirt out of your entire residence, improving your home’s overall winter indoor air quality. Your overall health and life satisfaction will be better, too.
There are other benefits to whole-home units, as well:
- They stay out of sight because they connect to your existing ventilation.
- They’re quiet – unlike freestanding units.
- They don’t require constant filter changes, tank refills, or need to be drained as often.
- They are more efficient and trap smaller particles as well.
Other Ways to Get Rid of the Winter Blues
You’ve removed as much pollutants from the air as you can. You’ve gotten rid of any mold. You’re not sick. However, you still feel down and blue. You may need to just embrace winter. You can try some of the following things and see if they work:
- Jog or walk on a bright, sunny day.
- Take part in a winter sport.
- Make time to enjoy life with family or friends.
- Watch a funny film or read in bed.
If that doesn’t remove the doldrums, then you may be experiencing a more significant issue. You may want to talk to a healthcare professional, such as your family doctor. They will help you see what the underlying issues causing your depression are.
Get Started With Cleaner Air
Getting a good filtration and humidity control system will help you feel better, not only in winter but year-round. Consult the pros at Air Quality Dunrite to select a system that will work best for you. Your overall health will thank you, and you may be less prone to suffer from those awful, depressing winter blahs.
Ask for a free quote. There’s no obligation to buy, and no pressure.
P.S. We have a great special on HEPA filters right now.