What Room Has the Dirtiest Air?

By Gina Greco, Senior Brand Marketing Specialist, SEMCA

Have you ever wondered which room inside your home has the dirtiest air quality? Since I have been working remotely for most of the year, I have become all too familiar with the importance of clearing the air inside my home to clear out unwanted smells and bacteria. I do this in multiple ways: I take advantage of clear days by opening my home’s windows; I use my vent while cooking inside my kitchen; and I invested in an air purifier for most rooms inside my home. The combination of these three efforts has made a noticeable difference in the air I breathe each day inside my home.

The Bedroom

Dirty is complicated, there are no two ways about it.  It is comprised of some combination of particulates, gases, and microbes.  The balance depends on your house. The bedroom can be both the smelliest and the dustiest room in the house. Even if you change your bedding regularly — the mattress, shoes, and carpets are places that accumulate sweat, drool, dead skin cells, and oils related to body odor.  If you keep your clothes hamper in the bedroom, that is another component, and it is made worse by moisture – sweat, used towels, etc.  That can lead to an additional moldy odor.

Sheets and bedding are in constant motion at night.  This is also where you sort through your clothes and take them on and off.  Dust and particulates can easily take to the air in these conditions.  And if you have allergies to dust mites like I do, moving those allergens into the air makes a more hostile environment for allergy sufferers.

The Bathroom

If you keep your hamper in the bathroom, don’t be surprised if the bathroom is the house’s smelliest room.  The added moisture from the sink and shower will only encourage mold growth. In most cases, bathrooms are cleaner than you think – because people pay more attention to them. At least I know I do.  The abundant hard surfaces that are easily cleaned and hostile to bacteria helps.  And there are many options for commercial cleaning products.

If you purchased a bathroom cleaner, you probably used it.  And bathroom cleaners often contain bleach-based disinfectant elements that regular household cleaners don’t have.

The Living Room

The germiest place in the home is normally around household pet areas.  These are areas that you don’t think to do deep cleans, like the wall-trim at the floor near the food and water bowls.  Moisture and bits of food can get into any crevice and encourage bacteria and germs to grow.  Bits of stray food can also easily produce mold.  Household cleaning products rarely contain disinfectants or bleach, certainly not for wood or carpets.

Free-roaming pets seem obvious suspects, but caged pets, like birds and small mammals, can still produce particulate matter and odors capable of getting all-around a well-ventilated house. We documented pet issues pretty well in our blog post “How Sharp Air Purifiers Keep Pet and Owner Together”.

The Basement

The moldiest place is almost always a basement, but hampers and bathroom wallpaper can also be sources. If you smell “fish,” and you know that it can’t be actual fish, take it very seriously because smoldering electrical components often produce a fishy smell.  Sniff all electric plugs, outlets, and light switches in the house just in case.  Then go and count the fish in the aquarium?

Change and Improve Indoor Air Quality Using an Air Purifier 

Sharp air purifier on a bench with flower

When used properly and positioned properly in the room, some people notice beneficial changes of using an air purifier inside a room in their home after one hour. Impressive, right?

Success against airborne particulate matter and allergens depends on the unit’s ability to circulate the room’s air.  Placing it near a wall, without obstructions like picture frames, and a clear shot at the ceiling will help ensure that the fan can move and cycle the room’s air.  It’s called the Coanda Effect, and it means that moving air travels along surfaces more efficiently.  Our air purifiers use that effect for cycling the air in a room efficiently.

Regarding bacteria, mold, fungus, and viruses, Sharp Plasmacluter® Ion Technology is proven to reduce all of them by more than 85% (between 85%-94% for individual strains) in a little more than 4 hours, according to laboratory testing by AHAM.  That is one of the many reasons I decided to incorporate these air purifiers into many rooms inside my home. In these less than certain times, my air purifiers give me peace of mind regarding the air I breathe at home.

Understanding Indoor Air Quality

By Jiju John, Product Manager, Consumer Solutions Group, SECL

The quality of the air we breathe indoors can affect our comfort and health. With people typically inside about 90 per cent of the time, according to HealthLinkBC, it’s worthwhile considering what can impact indoor air and what can be done about it.

How Clean is indoor air?

Indoor air can be five times worse than outdoor air, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The air in our homes, schools and workplaces varies in quality depending on what’s happening inside and how often it’s replaced by outdoor air.

When too little outdoor air enters a building to refresh the air inside, contaminants can build up. Generally, air will infiltrate a building through cracks and gaps in the structure (even with all doors and windows closed). Newer buildings can be better sealed, which means air must be let in with mechanical means or by opening windows to ensure good circulation. Air quality can also be affected by local conditions – such as humidity, and the presence of objects that add pollutants to the environment.

What are indoor pollutants?

Indoor pollutants include biological contaminants (pollen, pet dander, insects), combustion by-products (such as from fuel-burning appliances) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be released into the air by cleaning products, paint, varnishes, and new furniture or upholstery. Common VOCs include chemicals such as benzene, ethylbenzene, formaldehyde, xylenes, and toluene.

Additionally, mould can develop when an environment is consistently humid.

In general, if something is making air quality worse, the best first step is to address the source, including by removing it. This is especially important if the pollutant is causing immediate heath effects, such as headaches, or irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Such immediate effects can be hard to distinguish from the symptoms of colds or other diseases. Try to localize the source of a pollutant by considering whether you experience symptoms in one room more often than another. Poor indoor air quality can also be associated with long-term effects such as respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer. But as the EPA notes, “Further research is needed to better understand which health effects occur after exposure to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes and which occurs from the higher concentrations that occur for short periods of time.”

Steps to improving air quality

There are a number of other steps you can take to improve indoor air quality.  A good first step is ventilation. Open windows during warm weather. Also open interior doors so air can flow between rooms, which can help prevent pollutants from accumulating and reaching high concentrations. Fans can also help move air through the house.

To prevent the growth of mould, clean sinks, showers and bathtubs weekly. Also fix plumbing leaks immediately and check pipes for condensation. It might be counterintuitive, but a simple leaky faucet can have consequences for air quality.

The Government of Canada’s guidance on improving indoor air quality suggests that portable air cleaners can help: “Portable air cleaners, particularly HEPA filters and electrostatic precipitators, can reduce some air contaminants. HEPA filters collect particle pollutants with a fine filter.” Some options include the Sharp Plasmacluster® Ion Air Purifier with True HEPA (FPK50UW) and the Plasmacluster Air Purifier with Humidifying Function (KC850U).

The things that can change the quality of our indoor air are diverse, but many of them are within our control. We can help keep indoor air clean by improving ventilation from outside and removing pollutants at the source or by cleaning the air.