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By Shanan Kelley

Brand Ambassador

With research showing indoor air almost always being lower quality than that of the outdoors, more and more people are looking for ways to freshen things up. Depending on your needs, there are a variety of ways to bring better air into your home and office. Read on for our favorite clean air tips and tricks.

Freshen Up
For indoor environments needing a little freshen up, never underestimate the power of proper ventilation and a consistent cleaning schedule. Let fresh air in by opening your windows whenever possible. Clean your floors with a HEPA-sealed vacuum often and dust regularly. Replace air filters to properly maintain your HVAC system and use the exhaust fan in your kitchen and bathroom. Avoid scented candles, synthetic perfumes and air fresheners, and ban smoking inside to reduce potential irritants. Reducing pollutant sources is hands down the best way to improve indoor air quality. To passively neutralize odors from VOCs and other irritants in small spaces like the pantry, closets and laundry room, charcoal bags work surprisingly well and are inexpensive and easy to maintain. Additionally, indoor plants like pothos and English ivy are particularly good at improving air quality (and, as a bonus, they improve your mood too). Investing in good-quality wool rugs can also help, as the wool will naturally and effectively absorb contaminants like formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide.

Environmental Hazards
With climate-related natural disasters on the rise, it is becoming increasingly more common for household air to be contaminated by the effects of forest fires. When wood and other organic materials burn, a complex mixture of gases and fine particles is produced, creating a very real risk for your health. In the event of a forest fire, it is likely you will be spending more time indoors to avoid poor outdoor air quality, but when this toxic mixture of gas and particulates gets inside buildings, it can have a very negative effect on indoor air as well. If you live in a region where forest fires are a threat, consider purchasing a medical-grade HEPA air filter that is designed specifically to clear smoke like the Austin Air Healthmate Plus. While this air purifier is a significant investment, consider that it also eliminates a wide array of gases, chemicals, VOCs and formaldehyde, as well as up to 95% of bacteria and aerosolized viruses larger than 0.1 microns. The other thing we love about Austin Air is that most consumers will not need to purchase a replacement filter for their machine for roughly five years.

Allergies and Sensitivities
For those with moderate to severe allergies, an environmental illness and MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity), special attention should be paid to how air quality is addressed in the home and workplace. Ideally, the cause of the allergy or sensitivity needs to be attended to. However, in some cases, it may be difficult to impossible to fully eliminate the contaminate. In these cases, a high-quality air purifier specifically designed for allergy sufferers should be considered. For sufferers of MCS, a combination HEPA and activated carbon filter will be particularly helpful as these types of devices are very effective at capturing pollutants like gases, chemical emissions, tobacco smoke and odors. They also absorb formaldehyde, which is found in the adhesives used in carpeting, wood paneling and upholstered furniture — a common trigger for those with chemical sensitivities. The AllerAir AirMedic Pro 5 Plus is a great choice for those needing more specialized air filtration. AllerAir makes a variety of machines that work for a range of room sizes, as well as add-on options like UV light.

All Air Purifiers Are Not Created Equally
When it comes to purchasing an air purifier, there are several things to consider. First, and most obvious, is cost. While it is generally true that you get what you pay for, sometimes the up-front costs can be deceiving. Remember to factor into the total price of the machine the maintenance and operating costs. For example, the initial price of an air purifier may be lower than an Austin Air or AllerAir machine, but you may need to replace and maintain the filters more often and this will affect the total investment. Look for machines that are labeled as true HEPA filters. You will also want to understand what size room the machine can filter, and how long it will take to clear the air. If the specifications of the machine you are interested in are unclear, contact the manufacturer so that you understand exactly what you are purchasing. The bottom line is that almost any air purifier is better than no air purifier. With a reasonable amount of research, you will find a machine that fits your needs and budget. And that will have you breathing easier in no time.

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