How Safe is Your Apartment Air?

September 3, 2015

The indoor air quality of your apartment can have a direct impact on your health. Sharing indoor air with other tenants can present a unique set of challenges when it comes to improving your air quality and identifying potential hazards. Even though you may reside in a building with dozens of other occupants, there are steps that you can take towards achieving cleaner air.

What are some of the major contaminants polluting an apartment’s air?

#1 Mold 

Mold is a common problem often found in older apartment buildings. Mold spores grow in wet or damp environments and can spread throughout an apartment unit via the ventilation system. Mold can grow in a specific location as a result of water damage and it can grow inside of a ventilation system as a result of a moisture problem.

#2 Chemicals and particles from interior building materials and cleaning products

The chemicals used as fire retardants to treat some building materials and furnishings inside of apartments contain several hazardous chemicals. These chemicals can cause health maladies ranging from minor respiratory distress to more serious illnesses such as cancer. Cleaning products containing harsh chemicals such as carpet cleaners also pose a danger to your health.

#3 Secondhand Smoke

Another hazard of apartment living is secondhand smoke. While you may not smoke or allow others to smoke in your individual unit, secondhand smoke from neighboring units may make its way through the ventilation system into your apartment or through cracks in walls, joints, and ceilings. The dangers of breathing secondhand smoke have been well documented and are extremely serious.

What can you do to improve the indoor air quality of your apartment?

Open your windows to allow clean air inside. Adequate ventilation will significantly improve the quality of your indoor air. Opening windows will allow some of the pollutants contaminating your air to dissipate while allowing fresh air in. Use a ceiling fan when weather prohibits you from opening your windows.

Purchase an air purifier. These purifiers are readily available in some home improvement stores and through online retailers, make sure the unit addresses chemical contaminants as well as particulates. For an a apartment, purchasing a portable unit will be your best option since you can move it from one room to another based upon your personal air quality needs.

Test your apartment’s indoor air. You can purchase an indoor air test that will identify the presence of secondhand smoke, mold, formaldehyde, and any other potentially harmful VOCs contaminating your air. Once you have identified these hazards, encourage building management to seek guidance in correcting the causes of your air quality pollutants.