(407) 810-2467
Community-minded environmental hygiene
experts with a health-centric focus!

Ways to Promote Healthy Indoor Air

Many of us are staying at home more than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, now it’s time to start thinking about the air we breathe inside our homes. Having healthy indoor air helps prevent exacerbation of certain pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or any other lung diseases. Because what we breathe in usually cannot be seen with our naked eye, we tend to not pay attention to it until we experience allergy-like symptoms or smell a bad odor. So, what can homeowners do to keep healthy indoor air? Here are a few things to consider:

HVAC System

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This system is what I call the main artery of your indoor air. Since the system distributes and circulates air throughout your home, it is very important to ensure it is functioning properly. Make sure the air filter you are using has an appropriate MERV rating and replaced regularly to ensure particulates are being captured. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It reports a filter’s ability to capture larger particles between 0.3 and 10 microns. Maintenance of the unit should be done by a NADCA certified technician. NADCA stands for National Air Duct Cleaners Association and provides certification to individuals performing inspection, cleaning, and restoration of HVAC. Keep the air vents and air return grills clean and free of any visible dust accumulation. Do not block the air return vent(s). Make sure there is no standing water in the drain pan. Inspect the drain line on a regular basis. Seek advice from an HVAC contractor on how to properly maintain the drain line to prevent clogging that results in subsequent water leak. Maintain the relative humidity (RH) levels inside your home between 30 and 60% to minimize growth of pathogenic or allergenic organisms. Beware of UV light and biocide application cleaning methodologies of the air ducts. The EPA does not recommend cleaning of air ducts to be done on a routine basis. Additionally, there are no chemical biocides currently registered by the EPA for use in internally-insulated air duct system. So, do your research before hiring a company who markets these types of services.


We know that smoking cigarettes can cause many health-related problems. Smoking indoors contributes to poor air quality and can exacerbates conditions like asthma. The byproducts of cigarette smoke have been shown to linger on surfaces months after smokers have moved out of the house. We are all aware of second hand smoke but third hand smoke has now become a concern as well. So, if quitting smoking is not something you are ready to pursue, refrain from smoking inside your home. If you smoke outside your home, make sure you wash your hands with soap and water immediately after and change your clothing immediately. It may be wise to keep a separate laundry basket for your contaminated clothes and launder separately.


Mold has gained notoriety over the past years from being connected to deaths of children and adults. The fact is mold spores are everywhere and in the air we breathe. Mold becomes a problem in your home if your home suffers from a water intrusion. Mold can affect your indoor air quality if there is significant visible mold growth on your walls or in and around your air handling unit and air return vents. Mold releases compounds known as microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) if it is growing on constantly wet building materials, and these MVOCs can affect the air quality of your home. Homeowners may notice a musty or mildew-like odor in the presence of these compounds. So, make sure to repair any sources of moisture in your home immediately. For severe water intrusion, make sure you hire a reputable water damage restoration contractor who is licensed in the state you live in to immediately and effectively dry any wet building materials. In general, mold will start to grow on suitable wet building materials within 24-48 hours after being wet. For any visible mold that is extensive, and you need further guidance on how to address it, be sure to hire a licensed mold assessor in the state where you live (if it’s required). Beware of contractors who both perform mold remediation and mold testing/assessment. A remediation contractor is prohibited from performing mold assessments in the state of Florida. So check your state’s licensure requirements.


We don’t hear much about radon having an effect on your home air quality. The fact is radon is just as concerning, if not more concerning, as mold or cigarette smoke. Radon has been classified as a cancer-causing radioactive gas. Unfortunately, you cannot see, smell, or taste radon, and if it’s in the air you breathe in, it can increase your risk of having lung cancer. The EPA recommends having your home tested for radon as radon has been found in homes all over the United States. We get most of our radiation exposure at home since this is where we spend most of our time, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Candles and Incense

As much as we love burning our scented candles and incense, they also generate potential heath issues, unfortunately. Studies have shown that candles with lead wicks have the potential to generate lead concentrations that could be a health concern. In addition to lead, candles also emit other organic chemicals that impact your home air quality. Several studies have also found an association between exposure to incense smoke and many illnesses. So, be mindful when using candles and incense in you home and know where the candles were manufactured and whether it has a lead wick.

In conclusion, children, immune-compromised individuals, and those with lung disease are most vulnerable to the irritants found in the air we breathe. So pay extra close attention to these loved ones for any allergy-like symptoms, and do your own checklist of any potential contributing factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Mitigate the issues in a timely manner to promote a healthy indoor air.