January 31, 2019
The safest response to freezing temperatures is staying indoors, which was where we typically find ourselves during record-breaking blizzards like the Polar Vortex. As a result of the storm, a majority of the Midwest was advised to work from home to avoid the freezing outdoor conditions this week. While working from home is the safest option during snow storms, why does it sometimes feel like the least productive?
While there is something to be said about the comfort of our own homes making us feel more inclined to become distracted (or lose focus entirely), could there be something else keeping us from being our most productive selves while we work from home?
If you’re wondering why we’re so concerned with air quality, you’re not alone–many of us believe that the air we’re breathing is healthy, safe, and won’t have much effect on us since it’s not something we can typically see. But this isn’t the case, especially for air that’s indoors. In fact, indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoors, which can affect allergies, asthma, productivity, and more–even our quality of sleep.
With our interested piqued, we decided to see what the average Awair readings were across a city that was making headlines for being affected by the extreme weather: Chicago. Awair is a device that tracks toxins and chemicals in your indoor air, then gives you personalized recommendations to help you stay safe and healthy. Awair focuses on the five air quality factors that can affect your health–chemicals, dust, humidity, temperature, and carbon dioxide.
Checking the indoor air quality readings across Chicago, we couldn't help but notice a major trend: homes across the city experienced an almost sudden increase in carbon dioxide as the Polar Vortex crept into the area:
Carbon dioxide is by no means a toxic gas–it’s a very natural ingredient in the air we breathe. Humans play a role in adding carbon dioxide to our air, since we exhale about 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide every day. While we may not notice carbon dioxide in our air the same way we would for other gases, it’s very important to keep it in moderation.
If there’s an above-average amount of carbon dioxide in the air you’re breathing, you’ll begin to notice some side effects, headaches, difficulty making decisions, drowsiness–and decreased productivity.
Aside from bundling up as much as possible, what is the one thing we absolutely make sure of when temperatures drop well below freezing? We’ll most likely take a moment to check our home for any open windows, doors, or leaks that could potentially let the cold enter in. But a tightly sealed home may not always be our best ally.
Without a way for fresh air to properly flow into our home, we’ll begin unknowingly pumping those 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide into our air, and after a short while we’ll probably begin to feel its symptoms.
The air we breathe is a delicate balance of a few key ingredients, and many of us don’t realize that even small changes–like closing a window–can completely disrupt the balance, which has the ability to affect our entire day.
Keeping the levels of carbon dioxide low in your home is as simple as getting some fresh air!
Since opening a window to let in some fresh air isn’t realistic during a blizzard, here are a few of our favorite tips for keeping your air indoors healthy, even when it’s cold outside:
Everyone knows plants absorb carbon dioxide to help create oxygen, but some houseplants can even act as natural air purifiers by helping balance the amount of chemicals, humidity, and even mold spores in your air.
To learn about which plants will be right for your home, read our blog post here.
Fans are the best way to promote air flow in your home. If you can, try to at least run a fan on low to help you push air around your home. Running the exhaust fan over your stove can also help pull unhealthy air from your kitchen.
Take the guesswork out of keeping your air clean with an indoor air quality monitor, like Awair 2nd Edition. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air and gives you personalized recommendations to help you stay safe and healthy.
It’s been a tough year for parents and school kids. Both have endured a historic disruption of the education system, and rapidly shifted to virtual schooling. Many parents set up a place to work from home, whether at the kitchen table, on the couch, or creating an office in an extra room, while also creating space for their children to learn remotely. The kids have not had it easy either and are well aware that they are missing many traditional rites of passage during lockdown, such as proms, sports, and extracurricular activities.
Have you ever wondered why some winter days sting colder than others, and some summer days are almost suffocatingly hot? More often than not, the culprit is humidity.
We know. It's difficult to believe the winter solstice and the holiday season are already here. Unfortunately, the cold season is one of the worst times of year for indoor air quality, either at home or at work. People huddle inside tightly-sealed buildings and trade ventilation for heating. This traps pollutants and moisture in, which is a recipe for bad air.