At Home With COVID-19: How Filtration and Open Windows Can Help Stop the Spread

You might often come across news stories about air pollution and its impacts on public health. But how frequently do you think about the quality of the air indoors?

While outdoor air pollution certainly poses a concern, it might be easy to forget that the quality of the air you breathe at home may be just as important.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), levels of air pollutants indoors may not only be up to 100 times higherTrusted Source than outdoor air pollutants, they could also have a greater effect on your health.

The health impacts of indoor air pollution depend on the type of pollutant present in your air, but they can include:

People with respiratory or heart conditions, as well as young children and older adults, may also have a greater risk of developing some health concerns connected to low indoor air quality.

Unexplained respiratory symptoms could offer a clue that it may be time to check the air quality in your living space. But other times, even pollutants with the potential to cause harm go completely undetected for years.

Taking steps to boost your indoor air quality can help you lower your risk of developing health conditions and may even improve your quality of life. We’ve got eight tips to get you started.

1. Cut down on pollutants

An important way to keep your indoor air clean involves learning about common sources of pollution and avoiding adding pollutants when you can.

Some common pollutantsTrusted Source include:


Radon, a natural radioactive gas, can seep up through cracks in the earth and build up in your home, leading to health problems including lung cancer.

Home test kits offer a simple way to check for unsafe levels of radon in your home. If testing reveals high levels of radon in your air, you can typically reduce radon by sealing the foundation of your home so that the gas can’t leak into your living space.

Learn more about radon and how to handle it.

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke refers to exhaled cigarette smoke. Anyone exposed may have a higher riskTrusted Source of developing health concerns, including certain types of cancer. Thirdhand smoke, found on surfaces like clothes or furniture that absorb it, also poses a health risk.

The best way to keep second and thirdhand smoke out of your living space is to avoid smoking indoors. If possible, it could also be a good idea to minimize the habit, since the thirdhand smoke on your clothes may still affectTrusted Source your living space and air quality.


Formaldehyde is a common volatile organic compound, or VOC — one of many harmful gasses sometimes emitted by common household items.

Commonly found in glues used in composite wood and many types of furniture, formaldehyde can seep into your indoor air. Too much exposure can cause respiratory issues, including bronchitis.

You can reduce formaldehyde’s effects on air quality by:

  • opting for used furniture instead of new — furniture tends to release lower amounts of formaldehyde over time
  • choosing solid wood furniture over composite wood

Cleaning products

Certain cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that may linger in your air, including:

  • glass cleaners
  • air fresheners
  • bleach
  • cleaning sprays

Choosing safer, nontoxic cleaning products can help you keep your home clean, without the excess pollutants contained in some standard cleaning products.

2. Test your air quality

If you’re concerned about the air quality in your home but aren’t sure what changes could help the most, a good place to start involves testing your air quality.

You can either choose the DIY route or call in a pro.

The method you choose can depend on your needs. Doing it yourself is often less expensive, but working with a professional will likely yield more extensive results and personalized info.

DIY air quality testing

You can find a variety of air quality test kits online. Some kits allow you to check for multiple pollutants, while others test for just one, like radon.

Because many at-home test kits aren’t comprehensive, it might make more sense to do at-home testing if you’re only interested in checking for one or two particular pollutants. If you want a full panel of results, working with a pro may actually be more efficient in the long run.

Comprehensive at-home tests generally cost up to $200, but you may need to spend more when checking for more pollutants.

Professional air quality testing

Hiring a professional will likely cost more than using a test kit, but many professionals offer additional services to help you manage any sources of pollution found during the test. For example, pros who offer air quality testing may also specialize in mold prevention and removal.