Nothing stirs up dust quite like a home renovation. While you’re rejuvenating your space, especially while you’re living in it, take care to mitigate the air quality risks that come from dealing with demolition, drywall, and dust. Particulate matter, chemicals, off-gassing, and all types of stray pollutants can be shook loose while you’re stripping wallpaper or thinning paint. Read on to learn about the common culprits and what you can do to control them.
Common pollutants that occur during home renovation
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
VOCs are emitted from certain paints, adhesives, and solvents used in construction. These chemicals can linger in the indoor air, leading to respiratory issues, headaches, and eye irritation. Additionally, VOCs can react with other pollutants in the atmosphere, contributing to the formation of ground-level ozone and smog. There are low VOC and non-toxic paints on the market that are more expensive, but worth it to avoid inhaling those nasty chemicals.
Particulate matter (PM)
PM is the most visible pollutant that occurs when sanding, cutting, doing demolition, or even just cleaning out old junk. Fine particles can become airborne and penetrate deep into the lungs, causing or exacerbating respiratory problems. Dust generated during renovation may contain various harmful substances, such as lead or asbestos, especially in older homes. Inhaling these particles can lead to serious health issues, including neurological damage and respiratory diseases.
Formaldehyde, a colorless gas with a distinct odor, is often released from certain building materials, including pressed wood products, insulation, and glues. Exposure to formaldehyde can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and prolonged exposure has been linked to respiratory and allergic reactions. Adequate ventilation during and after renovation activities is crucial to minimizing formaldehyde levels.
A large mold discovery often warrants a whole renovation on its own. When you’re renovating, check places where moisture may accumulate, such as under sinks, near washing machines, on windowsills, ceilings, and basements. Ensure you have proper ventilation when removing mold, and consider installing a window, dehumidifier, fan, or other ventilation measures in places where you find mold returns. Using an air purifier that mitigates airborne mold spores can help reduce their spread.
How to mitigate home renovation pollutants
Protect yourself with a respirator
Respirators provide a physical barrier that prevents the inhalation of harmful particles and fumes. Whether sanding, painting, or working with other materials that release airborne contaminants, a well-fitted respirator can offer protection to the respiratory system. It is crucial to choose a respirator designed for the specific type of pollutants generated during the renovation to ensure optimal safety.
Don’t negotiate ventilation
Another key strategy for reducing home renovation pollutants is through proper ventilation. Adequate ventilation helps to disperse and remove pollutants from indoor spaces, preventing them from accumulating and causing health problems. Opening windows and doors, using exhaust fans, and maintaining a steady flow of fresh outdoor air can significantly improve indoor air quality during renovations. To guarantee effective ventilation, make certain that the exhaust fan is correctly ducted to the outdoors and free of cracks or tears. Additionally, creating a negative air pressure environment by using fans to expel air from the renovation area helps prevent the spread of pollutants to other parts of the home.
Purify the air you breathe
Air purifiers are another easy way to mitigate home renovation pollutants. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can capture small particles like dust, pollen, and other contaminants generated during construction activities. Air purifiers equipped with activated carbon filters can also help absorb volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by paints, adhesives, and other materials. PECO technology goes one step further and actually destroys organic pollutants in the air, like VOCs and dust. Molekule air purifiers combine the three with the proprietary PECO-HEPA Tri-Power filter inside every Molekule air purifier. By strategically placing air purifiers in the renovation area and throughout the home, occupants can enjoy cleaner and healthier indoor air during and after the renovation process.
Let appliances breathe, too
To further mitigate the risk of inhaling off-gassing from new upholstery, furniture, mattresses, and appliances, allow them to off-gas in a well-ventilated area, such as a garage or outdoor space, for a designated period recommended by the manufacturer. This process enables the majority of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to dissipate before the appliances are brought indoors. Additionally, run the appliances in a well-ventilated space for an initial period, allowing any residual off-gassing to occur outside the main living areas. Investing in appliances with low VOC emissions or those labeled with third-party certifications for indoor air quality, such as ENERGY STAR, can also be a proactive measure in minimizing the release of harmful substances into the indoor environment. These precautions contribute to a healthier indoor air quality and reduce the potential health risks associated with inhaling off-gassing from new appliances.
How to Maintain Air Quality After Renovation
Once your renovation is complete, thorough cleaning is essential. Dust and residues left behind can continue to affect air quality. Clean surfaces, vacuum, and mop regularly to remove remaining particles. Consider using air purifiers to maintain ongoing air quality.
Schedule an HVAC Inspection
Your HVAC system may have accumulated dust and debris during the renovation. An inspection and cleaning can ensure that it functions efficiently. Hire a professional to inspect and clean your HVAC system.
Keep the air purifier running
The Molekule Air Pro is a powerful air purifier designed for larger spaces. Its PECO technology destroys airborne pollutants at the molecular level, ensuring that your indoor air is clean and healthy. During home renovations, the Molekule Air Pro can effectively capture and destroy particulate matter, mold spores, VOCs, and other pollutants, helping you improve your air quality.
In the video, DIYer Brooke Sickmiller, known as @heybrookerose on TikTok, emphasizes the importance of addressing air quality concerns during home renovations. She highlights the Molekule Air Pro as an ideal solution for capturing pollutants, and its efficiency sets it apart from other air purifiers.
Conclusion: Home renovations are opportunities for positive change, but they can also introduce air quality challenges. By addressing pollutants and using solutions like the Molekule Air Pro, you can enjoy both the beauty of your renovated space and the clean, fresh air it deserves. Make air quality an integral part of your home improvement project for a more comfortable living environment.