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The affects of indoor air quality are top of mind as we spend more time at home
The EPA cites indoor air quality (IAQ) as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. Since the pandemic’s March shut down, many people have been inside nearly 24/7. Our homes have been doing quadruple duty as office, restaurant, theater, school. We got a reprieve during the spring and summer when we could at least do a lot of things outdoors, but colder weather and shorter days are not far away – and we’ll be back inside once again.
While you’re trying to keep your space clean and free of germs, you’re likely doing lot of vacuuming. And recent research from University of California, Davis and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, shows that while we typically imagine influenza viruses spreading via respiratory particles, they can also spread through the air on dust, fibers and other microscopic particles.
Are you doing more harm than good by vacuuming?
A Good Vacuum
When you vacuum, you suck up dirt and fine particles into a canister. And, while your vacuum does have a filter, if it’s an old vacuum, it’s likely not doing enough to contain the tiniest particles, which will then just blow back into your home. If you or your family members are prone to allergies, this is a problem.
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Harvard’s Healthy Building Program suggests that you vacuum regularly – but use a vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. These filters, according to the EPA, “can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns.”
Yet, even with a HEPA filter, if the vacuum is not sealed well or the filter is faulty, jostling the vacuum is enough to release particles into the air. (To see this explained check out this video from Vacuum Wars, a vacuum cleaner review and comparison channel.) So if you buy a portable vacuum, invest in one that has a HEPA filter with a sealed system. And, when you empty the canister, don’t do it in the house.