10 Air Quality Tips for Summer to Make the Air Breathable

Every year, many of us get excited for the sunny summer days. We get ready to spend more time with our families and friends through all the activities. Some people like me want to be outdoors, for the most part, to catch any possible breeze and soak in the warm weather. Others will, however, want to remain indoors and beat the heat. But summer is not perfect.

The season generally comes with a lot of air pollutants that we may not even notice, but we need to try and avoid them. Summertime air pollution goes up due to the dry weather, which loosens more particulate matter as they react with the sunlight and heat. Summer is also prone to more wildfires due to the dry and hot conditions. These fires result in a lot of smoke, and if the wind is too strong, they can spread very far and even become uncontrollable.

Despite all these issues, we all just want to breathe quality air and, at the very least, more easily. We also want to avoid the short-term and chronic respiratory issues that may come from air pollution.

Summertime air pollution is something that will somehow still get to you, whether outdoors or indoors. Nevertheless, below are some tips I have found helpful for improving the summer air quality.

  1. Protect Yourself with a Facemask

Covid-19 has proved to us how efficient face masks are for disease prevention. But that’s not where face mask use ends. They are helpful and essential tools to have during summer.

If you use them, you know how crucial they are in preventing you from inhaling dust particles and the pollen that comes with summer. They are also critical in protecting you from inhaling wildfire smoke. Wildfire smoke is hazardous enough to cause lung damage.

Even though there are various masks in the market, you might know they are not created equal by now. Wildfire smoke contains high quantities of particulate matter, which your mask should be able to filter out. The masks you will need for that are the respirators and not cloth masks. This may come as a shock, but surgical masks will also not do an excellent job regarding smoke filtering. The microscopic smoke particles can pass through the fibers of surgical and cloth masks.

If you need a good mask for wildfire smoke protection, you can get one from cambridgemask.com. Their respirators are made with military-grade filtration technology, and that is why they will filter out a tremendous amount of the smoke, haze particles, and other air pollutants.

Cambridge masks have three different layers designed with unique filtration technology to capture large to small particles, viruses, bacteria, pollen, odor, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and more.
Apart from that, you can buy KN95 and N95 face masks from Amazon store as the efficiency is more than 95%. These face masks can protect you in critical time.

  1. Stay Out of Harm’s Way by Tracking Air Pollution

Indeed, air pollution issues have considerably improved in Europe and the US in the last decades. This is thanks to the stricter guidelines and regulations that have been implemented. But the intense and frequent summer wildfires also play a significant role in impacting air quality, and they have raised air pollution concerns. However, technological advancements are helping with air pollution.

Today, there are apps to help you track air pollution. They show active fires, forecasted air quality, pollen levels, and wind conditions through charts and maps. Mobile apps like IQAir’s Airvisual, Breezometer, South Coast AQMD, Oregon Air, and Air Care are some apps you can use, and government agencies run them.

These apps help you figure out the times when air quality is worse or better. They use data combinations availed by government-operated satellites or fire, weather, and ambient air quality stations. Private sector entities have also taken part in the same, and they give information using their sensors and systems.

The data and predictions these apps offer can allow you to better prepare and take appropriate measures to stay away from air pollution.

  1. Using Air Purifiers Indoors

Most of us tend to focus more on air pollution being an outdoors issue. However, the truth is that the air in our houses is also much polluted. You may be surprised, but it is often even more polluted than outdoor air. We, therefore, have to keep summertime indoor air quality in check and at the top of our minds.

Air purifiers are excellent tools for healthy indoor air. You can add air purifiers as additional systems, and they will effectively get rid of pet dander, dust, and mold while killing bacteria and viruses. Air filters will also filter out smoke that may come from wildfires. Ultimately, the air indoors becomes healthier for everyone in the space. Blueair and Molekule are good air purifier brands you can consider for your home.

You may feel a little bit stretched for cash when getting an air purifier. Good-quality air purifiers are not usually very cheap. However, you can make your DIY air purifier with inexpensive materials by following this video:

https://youtu.be/YnIvLBe6xUE.

It would be best not to settle on DIY air purifiers as long-term solutions because the fan may not last long. However, they can come through for you and improve indoor air quality in an emergency situation like a wildfire or when your house gets filled with smoke during cooking. They work pretty well, but not as perfectly as dedicated air purifiers.

  1. Airborne Pollutants Testing

Unfortunately, some of the most dangerous air pollutants are not visible to the naked eye. But that does not lessen the effects they may have on you. For example, radon, which is a colorless gas, does not smell, and neither can you taste it, but it is one of the main causes of lung cancer.

Radon is a byproduct of uranium breakdown. Uranium is found in soil and rocks. The gas can come up from the ground in your home’s foundation and find its way into your house, and you will not know whether it has affected your indoor air unless you do a radon test. Different manufacturers will usually suggest different radon detecting methods.

On the other hand, carbon monoxide can build in your home unknowingly since it is also odorless and colorless. It is also very hazardous and can result in death. It is essential that you test the amount of carbon monoxide like with radon to work toward maintaining quality air.

You can get air quality monitors, which are typically made to detect the specific air contaminants or pollutants you are concerned about.

You can even get a particulate matter (PM) monitor. There are test kits that you can get to test
for mold. They come in various forms like tape strips, petri dish tests, air pumps, and swabs.

You should always follow the guidelines advised for testing air pollutants.

  1. Clean More

You know how everything gets dirty during summer. One minute you are done dusting one spot, only to touch it a few minutes after, and the dust has settled in. You also know how you or your pet comes back to the house looking like after the outdoor activities. Dirt and allergens will usually be in high circulation, polluting the air.

Cleaning starts with personal hygiene. Make sure you always clean yourself properly during summer, especially once you come from outside. You also need to clean your pet more if you have one.

It would help if you also cleaned your environment adequately. Your floors, carpets, upholstered furniture, throw pillows, curtains, and beddings need attention. They usually accumulate a lot of summer air pollutants. During summer, choose to vacuum more and dust more with a damp item to decrease dirt. Don’t forget to change your finishes regularly as well.

  1. Use Fewer Chemicals

Indeed, cleaning your home is a vital way to improve indoor air quality. However, whether you realize it or not, we use a lot of chemicals in our homes, and they contribute to air pollution. Cleaning items like carpet cleaners, floor polishes, shellacs, and some paints contain VOCs which release chemicals that, with time, become airborne. These chemicals are harmful and can result in respiratory problems and irritation.

If you want to decrease indoor chemical use, you should be mindful of the components and choose to buy natural products if they are available. Look out for cleaning agents labeled as VOC safe and those certified for meeting US EPA’s Safer Product Standards. You can also consider making your cleaning products using non-chemical ingredients like baking soda and vinegar.

Another way is by using enough cleaning agents as required to complete the job and rinsing surfaces liberally and appropriately to get rid of residual cleaning agents. You can also keep your cleaning materials like sponges and mops outside for storage. Liquids and pastes are also better choices than cleaning sprays since they disperse lesser particles in the air.

The hot summer weather increases ground-level ozone pollution, which plays a role in increasing summer wildfires making the air quality worse. During this time of the year, choose to minimize cleaning products and air fresheners with citrus oils and pine as these intentionally produce ozone.

  1. Humidity Control

Summer comes with hot weather, which affects humidity levels. Humidity impacts air pollution, affecting respiratory health and becoming more harmful for humans. Humidity affects air quality since it is the amount of water in the atmosphere, and it also consists of dry air. It is said that the human body is most comfortable when the relative humidity in the area they are in is between 20-60%.

In addition to the humid summer weather, your home may have unhealthy humidity due to extensive cooking sessions, long showers, and constant indoor drying of clothes.

If a particular space has high humidity, the rate of toxic or harmful chemicals in the air also increases. That is how most of our homes end up with excess dust mites, and it is also how the air becomes damp. Some viral and bacterial organisms responsible for respiratory infections thrive in low or high humidity.

Since summertime humidity may be challenging to control, you can consider getting a dehumidifier to maintain the air moisture at optimal levels. Dehumidifiers are excellent when it comes to pulling out air moisture, and with one, your HVAC system will also not be working too hard to make the air comfortable for you.

  1. Duct Cleaning and Filter Replacement

The ductwork in our homes distributes airflow from cooling and heating systems. If you use an air filter, you know it works by trapping air pollutants and any allergens that flow through the ductwork. Continuous trapping of these molecules causes the ducts to fill up, compromising the air filter’s functioning. Air pollutants settle in the ductwork and spread every time you operate your appliance. What you should do is clean these ducts regularly, especially during summer.

It is usually recommended that you replace the filters in three months. But during summer, it is better to do so more frequently, like once a month. It also helps to choose the right air filter for your AC if you want to reduce indoor air pollution significantly. If you give your HVAC system scheduled preventative maintenance, the components will keep running efficiently, and your indoor air will be clean even with the temperature changes.

If you feel you may constantly forget to clean your ducts, you can consider getting a decontaminating lamp. HVAC systems emit microorganisms, but you will kill these microorganisms with a decontaminating lamp. It becomes essential, especially if you haven’t cleaned your ducts for some time.

  1. Mind Your Home’s Ventilation

If your home has a tight building envelope, it has a well-developed system for getting rid of stale air while bringing in fresh air. If the air in your home feels staler, you may need a new ventilation system.

The ventilators come in different kinds, shapes, and sizes. However, I highly recommend an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) for the hot and humid summer weather. The ERV expels unhealthy air and continuously brings in clean air. Additionally, it pre-conditions fresh air such that your HVAC system does not use too much energy when working.

As much as opening doors and windows to get in fresh air sounds good, it is also a contributing factor to the amount of airborne toxins and pollen that may get into your space. During days when the air quality apps show that pollen levels will be high, make sure that you keep your doors and windows shut and leave the AC to work. Usually, when your AC is running, closing windows and doors becomes most efficient. But not many of us know that closure can also limit air circulation and cross ventilation. Running an air conditioner makes your space more comfortable by countering heat and humidity. However, a running AC will typically not remove the dust in the air.

The best approach here is to strike a balance between indoor and outdoor air for proper ventilation. Having open windows and doors can bring in polluted outdoor air like smoke.

Consider Adding Potted Plants

Plants are natural filters, and if you don’t have them in your space, maybe you can consider getting them when summer starts to kick in. Plants will pull in excessive air toxins and convert them into clean oxygen. Ultimately, they enhance the air quality in your house or space.

Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, a crucial element of healthy and clean air. By having an indoor plant, you can enhance your exposure to oxygen. In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, some other plants have also been shown to absorb gases like nitrogen dioxide.

Plants have also been said to absorb Volatile Organic Compounds like formaldehyde found in various cleaning substances like carpet cleaners, fabric softeners, dish detergents, and benzene found in cigarette smoke and pesticides, and some plastics. As mentioned earlier, one of the tips for improving air quality during summer is using fewer chemical-filled substances.

As indoor plants transpire, they emit water vapor and phytochemicals, creating air movement. They also pull airborne toxins into their leaves and roots during the process.

Final Thoughts

Good air quality is vital for survival, but summer affects it- air pollution is greatly affected by climate change.

The heat and humidity bring about poor air quality indoors and outdoors due to high mold, pollen, and dust levels. The season may also bring forth wildfires that emit smoke that also affects air quality. Since the season comes with more travel, air pollution also increases significantly. The solar radiation and sunlight also lead to more ozone production in the air. More ozone gas at ground level is toxic.

Summer air pollutants are harmful as they may cause allergic reactions and even result in serious respiratory problems. Therefore, we must focus on improving the air quality for ourselves and others.

By using the tips we have recommended above, you will find yourself breathing better air and reducing air pollutants for everyone else. While you use these tips, be mindful enough of their efficiency to work in the best way.

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