You may have experienced a few days this June when you thought about turning on the air conditioning. Air conditioners help keep us cool and comfortable during the summer but how do they affect indoor air pollution and our health?
Air conditioners are beneficial in so much as they help circulate and filter indoor air. Almost all air conditioners contain a filter that will remove allergens and other pollutants as it pulls air from inside the room. This can actually help reduce indoor air pollution, especially when the air quality outside is poor.
It is important, however, that you regularly clean and maintain your air conditioner so that it works properly. Air conditioners that are not correctly maintained can create problems for people with asthma and allergies.
The substances that air conditioners remove from the air—dust, pet dander and even pollen—can buildup inside the unit and recirculate throughout the room. Air conditioners can also accumulate mold because they remove moisture from the air to lower humidity. Refrigerants and other chemicals can leak from your air conditioner as well, creating toxic vapors that are harmful to breathe.
To avoid these problems, replace the air filter inside your air conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Clean your air conditioner just as you would any other appliance, removing the vents and the back of the device if necessary. This is especially important if you notice any visible buildup of dust or mold. It is unlikely that your air conditioner will leak any toxic chemicals but if you are unsure, have it inspected and repaired by a professional.
Another concern with air conditioning is that it limits natural outdoor ventilation. When we turn on the air conditioning, we close up our windows and doors to keep the cool, dry air inside. This makes sense from an environmental and financial standpoint but it can also trap substances inside your home and create a harmful buildup of indoor air pollution.
A certain level of ventilation is necessary for maintaining the air quality inside your home. On cooler days when the air quality outside is good, turn off the AC and open up the windows for some fresh air. Adequate airflow and ventilation will reduce indoor air pollution, which is especially important for people with asthma and allergies.
Air conditioners that are maintained and used properly will not only keep you comfortable during the summer but will also help improve the air quality in your home. Check out PURE PRODUCTS for your home to help you breathe easier. Stay cool, everyone!