Brace yourself – summer is coming and your home may not be the safe and healthy haven that you think it is.
As the outside temperature rises during these months, hot air surrounds the exterior of your home, and the air that enters your home is likely to be hot as well.
Unfortunately, heat isn’t the only issue. The hottest season of the year can also bring up a variety of indoor air quality issues that you should be aware of. Here’s how to manage them and stay cool and healthy.
High Temperatures and Humidity Levels
As summer temperatures rise, the air inside your home will hold more moisture and your humidity will rise to unhealthy and uncomfortable levels. This causes a range of health symptoms, including headaches, lethargy, skin and throat irritation, and heat stress. High humidity inside the home also leads to the growth of molds and mildew which can contribute to more negative health outcomes especially for people who have allergies and asthma.
How to Resolve Temperature and Humidity Issues:
- Use exhaust fans – running exhaust fans inside bathrooms and kitchens during summer months will help reduce moisture in the air and prevent mold and mildew from growing
- Get a dehumidifier – Portable dehumidifiers can help control humidity levels in frequently used rooms
- Plan out your ventilation options – air conditioners can be used to cool the room, but bringing in fresh air from the outside when the outside air quality is good can also prevent the buildup of stale air and pollutants inside.
High Pollen Levels
As the summer days warm up, plants release more pollen, and temperature and wind patterns cause the levels of pollen to spike and disperse across the air. When pollen counts are high, it is very likely that pollen substances will be carried indoors and end up being inhaled, consumed or get into the eyes. This causes sneezing, irritation, watery eyes, and a runny nose. Allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions might be made worse by pollen inhalation.
How to Resolve Indoor Pollen Issues:
- Close your windows and doors when pollen counts are high. If your local air quality reports indicate high pollen counts, use an air conditioner to keep your home cool.
- Clean thoroughly and regularly. Vacuum carpeting and furniture and use a damp microfiber cloth to dust so that you can control the spread of pollen substances indoors.
- Invest in a high-filtration air filter. Using a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter can help remove dust, pollen, mold, and other airborne toxins.
The threat of wildfires has become a source of summertime dread for people who live in areas at risk. In recent years, hotter and drier conditions have prompted a rise in wildfire breakouts in the United States. Dry vegetation act as natural accelerants that can feed and fuel out-of-control fires. Wildfires can destroy entire homes and communities and cause billions of dollars in damages, not to mention severe health consequences to those who are exposed to wildfire smoke.
Smoke particles from wildfires can irritate the nose, throat, and eyes, resulting in discomfort and inflammation that can persist until the air quality improves. Inhaling these particles is a significant risk even indoors. Smoke from wildfires can cause severe complications, such as difficulty breathing, coughing, dizziness, chest pain, and even heart palpitations. Those with respiratory conditions, babies, young children, and the elderly should be especially careful about being exposed to fire smoke.
How to resolve wildfire smoke Issues:
- Keep your doors and windows closed and limit your outdoor activities.
- Use a high-efficiency HVAC filter to filter the air. In the event of a wildfire, an HVAC filter can filter the hazardous incoming air from outside.
- Use air conditioners, evaporative coolers, and fans to keep your inside environment cool during wildfires. This also reduces the amount of wildfire smoke that enters your home as you won’t need to open windows for air.
- Be vigilant about monitoring your indoor air quality. If problems arise, you can quickly address them when you have real-time air quality information.
- Basic facts about mold and dampness. (2020, December 3). CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm
- BC Centre for Disease Control. (2022, May 5). Wildfire smoke. http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/prevention-public-health/wildfire-smoke
- Care, U. (2014, June 23). Effects of humidity on your body. UPMC HealthBeat. https://share.upmc.com/2014/06/effects-humidity-body/
- Climate change and public health – Health effects – Pollen and your health. (2020, December 21). CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/effects/pollen-health.htm
- US Department of Commerce, NOAA, National Weather Service. (n.d.). What is the heat index? Retrieved June 6, 2022, from https://www.weather.gov/ama/heatindex