Summary: This article looks at some of the main sources of poor indoor air quality in apartments, how dirty air affects your health, and some simple solutions to make your air as pure as possible.
Your apartment is your sanctuary—where you retreat after a long day, take a deep breath, and relax. But is the air quality in your apartment clean and healthy?
Indoor air can be up to 5x more polluted than outdoor air, according to the EPA. And major studies, including this one by the World Health Organization, concluded that air quality has a huge impact on your health. Is what you’re breathing at home holding back your wellness?
“The indoor air you breathe can be hazardous to your health without any telltale signs,” according to the American Lung Association.
While there are plenty of ways to keep your apartment’s air fresh and healthy, there are also many factors outside your control.
“Apartments or multifamily buildings pose unique indoor air quality challenges because pollutants may move from unit to unit,” according to the EPA.
Oftentimes you can’t control the quality or quantity of air circulating through your building. And many buildings have ventilation systems that share air between every unit in the complex.
The EPA recommends that you regularly bring in fresh air. However, that’s not always an option, especially in hot or cold weather. Throwing open the windows can invite in unwanted secondhand smoke and food smells from neighbors, not to mention noise and an array of pollutants from vehicles and construction.
At this point, you may be asking... is clean indoor air even possible?
In fact, it’s all we do here at Alen. Later, we’ll talk about the BreatheSmart 45i, our ideal solution for pure air in your apartment.
Bur first, to get a better understanding of clean air, let’s take a look at the major factors that cause indoor air pollution:
Five Common Sources of Unhealthy Indoor Air Quality
- Dust, Particulate Air Pollution, and Secondhand Smoke - Dust is a combination of materials and irritants, including dust mites, dust mite fecal matter, fibers, hair, shed skin cells, and bacteria, among others. Additionally, in metropolitan areas, dust can also contain smoke particles and soot from the atmosphere. Sources include construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, or fires, according to the EPA. These particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions between chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries, and automobiles. Lastly, secondhand smoke is classified by the EPA as a Group A carcinogen. It contains more than 7,000 toxic substances and can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units.
- VOCs - Volatile Organic Compounds are airborne chemicals widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, and degreasing products, according to the EPA. VOCs, which can also come from cooking oils, are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times more) than outdoors. Even building materials and furnishings can release VOCs.
- Pollen - Most of the pollens that cause allergic reactions come from trees, weeds, and grasses. Each spring, summer, and fall, plants release tiny pollen grains to fertilize other plants of the same species. These small, light, dry pollen grains travel by the wind, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation.
- Mold - Present indoors and outdoors, spores of mold or other fungi can cause allergy symptoms similar to pollen. Outdoor mold is seasonal but indoor mold can grow year-round on potted plants, foods, wood, cloth, insulation, and drywall. Indoor mold is common in high moisture or water damaged areas.
- Pet Dander and Odors - As many as 3 in 10 people are allergic to pets. Pet allergies are actually overreactions by our immune systems to harmless proteins in a pet's urine, saliva, or dander (dead skin cells). An Apartments.com survey found that more than 70% of apartment residents own pets. Even if you don't have a furry friend, chances are a previous resident did.
What’s at Stake with Indoor Air Quality? Your Wellbeing.
"Most of the things that cause problems are odorless," says Harvard Medical School Professor Dr. Nicholas BuSaba. "So, in many cases, there's nothing to alert you to the problem other than the symptoms these allergens can trigger—such as respiratory problems (including asthma flare-ups), fatigue and sleepiness, or even digestive issues.”
According to the EPA, the most common short term effects of unhealthy air include:
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
- Headaches and dizziness, skin and digestive issues
Longer-term exposure to poor air quality gets a lot more serious and can include:
- Respiratory diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (or COPD)
- Heart disease
Alen is on a mission to transform indoor air quality for the better because clean air is key to good health. With apartments in mind, we came up with a simple and livable solution to improve every aspect of indoor air.
Why Breathesmart 45i is the Perfect Apartment Air Quality Solution
Every BreatheSmart 45i removes at least 99% of airborne irritants—including pollution, dust, dander, and pollen. Sleek and compact, it has nearly all the features of our flagship BreatheSmart 75i model, just engineered especially for smaller spaces up to 800 square feet (such as studio and one-bedroom apartments).
One stand-out feature is our Smart Sensor. In Auto mode, our intelligent sensor technology adjusts purification to changing conditions in your environment. An LED indicator always lets you know the status of the air quality around you.
One of the quietest purifiers available, the BreatheSmart 45i emits a low, soothing tone that helps reduce the noticeable noise of neighbors. At its lowest setting, the unit can even lull you to sleep with pink noise—a frequency shown to help you sleep up to 25% better.
Ultimately, cleaner air is all about airflow and filtration. The BreatheSmart 45i offers best in class performance in both areas. Our proprietary three-stage HEPA filtration process is second to none. We approach your specific lifestyle needs with filter combinations tailored to unique concerns:
45i HEPA-OdorCell Filter
Alen’s patented OdorCell Technology is designed specifically to neutralize (not just cover up) unpleasant odors. It’s ideal for anyone with furry or feathery family members interested in controlling dander and other less-adorable pet attributes including:
- Urine and feces odor
- Wet dog smell
- Oily skin odors
- Smelly gland odors
45i HEPA-Fresh Filter
The Alen HEPA-Fresh Filter is equipped with carbon to absorb airborne particulates. It’s especially great at keeping your apartment smelling clean and fresh—even if food smells are a frequent occurrence or if you live in an older building with that slightly musty “vintage” aroma. The Fresh Filter also excels at removing:
- Secondhand smoke
- Airborne chemicals including VOCs from cooking and cleaning products
- Other minor odors
We believe a purifier can work hard and look good doing it. Your health is our main concern, but we don’t think style should be an afterthought. Designed to blend in or stand out, the BreatheSmart 45i’s sleek exterior is customizable 14 different ways to suit any interior aesthetic.
While finding the right purifier is the most important way to ensure your apartment’s air is fresh and pleasant, we wanted to share a few more ways to bring a smile to every breath.
Bonus Tips for Amazingly Fresh and Fragrant Air
- Start with a Test - Since air quality impacts everything from focus to sleep quality to skin health, why not know exactly what’s in your air by the minute? We like the testing devices made by AWAIR for their modern design and ease of use. They track invisible fine dust and chemicals in your air and send personalized recommendations to an app. Plus, AWAIR works with other devices like Nest, Alexa, and Google Home.
- Scent it Safely - Aromatherapy is a wonderful way to relax, but artificially scenting your air can expose you to VOCs and other harmful irritants. Try a naturally-scented soy candle from Paddywax. Or invest in an essential oil diffuser and grab a handy aromatherapy blend from Aura Cacia. Bottom line: It’s wonderful to indulge in aromas, but don’t use them to cover up an odor. Identify the source and eliminate it. Stale, musty scents can originate from standing water or leaks, which can both lead to dangerous mold.
- Vac and Ventilate - Vacuum carpets and area rugs once or twice a week with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum to keep dust from accumulating. And if your building’s maintenance team doesn’t change your HVAC filters regularly, be proactive and change them once per month.
- Keep Furry Friends Clean - The American Allergy and Asthma Foundation recommends bathing indoor pets once a week. Most dogs need periodic grooming to maintain wellness and doing so cuts down on dander and foul odors. If you aren’t sure about local groomers, PetSmart offers grooming services in many of their nationwide locations.
At Alen, your best air quality is our top priority. Every Alen purifier is guaranteed for life and our customer service team stands ready to guide you on every step of your journey to the purest air possible.