The holidays are filled with lots of fun activities from shopping in well-decorated stores to attending corporate parties. With increased awareness on staying safe while indoors, we want to help reduce your exposure to airborne infections and pollutants. We realize there may be work events that you want to attend or people that you need to shop for, but there are a few simple ways to improve your indoor air quality (IAQ) so you can celebrate accordingly.
Tip 1: Air out your event space
Are you attending a holiday gathering? Even if you’re not the event planner, you might remind the organizer to open nearby windows and doors — or drop them a note ahead of time. This can improve the amount of fresh air circulating. We know that CO2 is a byproduct of our body’s metabolism and levels rise with more people packed into a space. Skip all of the symptoms of increased CO2, such as fatigue and headaches, and stay safe at the same time.
Tip 2: Pay attention to holiday décor
Some holiday decorations can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Candles with paraffin wax, for instance, are considered an indoor pollutant when burned since they are derived from petroleum. While it’s nice to smell the seasonal fragrance of balsam fir, it’s best to use non-toxic candles sparingly or in a well-ventilated room so the chemicals dissipate.
When it comes to stored items, mold can be extremely common in damp or humid areas of the country. To tackle this issue, check signs for damage and wipe the decorations down before bringing them into your home from the basement or attic. Longer term, you may want to consider how you are storing these items, such as using a moisture absorber.
Tip 3 (Part 1): Consider pollution from cooking
Whether your holiday gathering is hosted in the office or at someone’s home, windows near the kitchen should be opened during peak cooking periods. An exhaust fan can help to reduce fine particulates (PM2.5), which are automatically released as food is prepared. Cleaning grease from the hood and fan also help to preserve IAQ and limit fine particle pollution.
Tip 3 (Part 2): Know the science behind spirits
Beer, wine, and spirits are high in alcohol content, specifically ethanol. Having an open bottle in the same room as your IAQ monitor, or in a nearby room, can cause the VOC levels to rise. When the human body processes alcohol, it breaks it down into acetaldehyde, which the IAQ sensor picks up in its readings. Heightening VOC levels can potentially mask other potentially harmful pollutants. This is why ventilation is important in this instance as well.
The gift of clean air
Give the gift of clean air to you and your colleagues this holiday season. You can enjoy your decorations, cooking, and parties with these quick tips. Tell us about the precautionary measures you're taking to breathe safely.
Have a healthy and happy holiday season!