IAQ, popularly referred to as Indoor Air Quality, is the quality of air, health and comfort within structures. Air quality can be kept at a stable and breathable level if done right. But if done wrongly, it can become a major health hazard as is the case in many tropical, third world countries.

Below are 9 of the most effective ways to improve indoor air quality in homes and offices.

Smoking outdoors
This is a very obvious tip. For those of us who insist on smoking, it should be done outdoors or at least on the balcony if you live in a high-rise building. The average over the counter cigarette contains thousands of harmful chemicals which kids are especially susceptible to. Smoking indoors drastically depreciates the quality of air in a home.

Smoking outdoors is a very cost effective way to improve indoor air quality. Some cities around the world have specially designated smoking areas far from residential buildings.

Investing in a Dehumidifier
A dehumidifiers job is simple, to reduce the level of humidity in the air. There are several types of dehumidifiers on the market, choosing the perfect one for you might seem like an uphill battle. Different dehumidifiers use different methods, these methods include: ionic membrane dehumidifiers, thermal condensation dehumidifiers, desiccant dehumidifiers, amongst others.

You should be very careful when purchasing a dehumidifier as some are better suited for high humidity levels at low temperatures while others are great for low humidity levels at high temperatures.

Another major factor to consider before purchasing a dehumidifier is the effect it has on the environment. Desiccant dehumidifiers do not make use of a compressor, making it the greenest and quietest method of controlling humidity in a home. Investing in a dehumidifier might be one of the best decisions you ever make.

Ventilate properly
Ventilating your home properly might just be one of the simplest and most cost effective ways to improve air quality indoors. Natural ventilation is simply allowing air from the outdoors into your home without the use of air conditioning or any mechanical form of controlling ventilation.

Natural ventilation depends entirely on wind behavior. By simply designing and constructing buildings with larger windows, you are on your way to having a properly ventilated home, which in turn results in improved indoor air quality.

All you have to do is open your windows for a few minutes each day to instantly improve the quality of air indoors.

Introduce a few house plants into your home
Houseplants are integral in keeping your home properly humidified during winter months when we increase our thermostats to stay warm. Keeping your thermostat on around the clock leaves you feeling warm and cozy, no doubt. Bu t it also dries up the air indoors which can have adverse effects on your skin and is just generally unpleasant, we can bypass all that unpleasantness when we humidify a room naturally by simply purchasing a couple of houseplants from your local supermarket.

Houseplants humidify a room naturally while they breathe through a process called ‘transpiration.’

Tidy up your immediate environment
Cleaning your home and maintaining a great indoor air quality go hand in hand, it’s almost impossible to have one without the other. When cleaning, all that needs to be done is the removal of unwanted and potentially harmful substances from your home.

Mold and bacteria can build up in your home. Bacteria are very harmful when left unchecked, and they also have a negative effect on the ecosystem of your home or office.

Cleaning can be done by yourself, or you might choose to employ a professional to take care of that for you. Whether its laundry you’re cleaning or just doing the dishes, the importance of a sparkling clean environment cannot be overstated.

Groom hairy pets regularly
Any pet owner with a hairy companion knows just how annoying and stressful grooming is, especially if you’re doing it yourself. For some reason, we might be required to groom our pets ourselves. This might be due to a number of reasons ranging from it being cheaper to do it yourself, to not trusting a stranger with your pup.

Hairy dogs shed their hair every now and then. If shed hair is not properly disposed of, it litters the home, where it can be colonized by bacteria, picked up by a toddler or particles can get stuck in your dehumidifier or other home appliances, thereby undoing all the hard work you’ve done so far on your quest to improving your homes air quality.

Avoid making use of synthetic air fresheners indoors
Most over the counter air fresheners and deodorants are made up of several chemicals that might smell great on you, but in reality they are doing more harm than good. The average deodorant has chemicals that mere mortals like you and I can’t even pronounce correctly.

Excessive usage of air fresheners can lead to dehumidification; this can be a real threat during winter when the air is already dried up from making use of thermostats too frequently and for long stretches of time.

Avoid cooking over open flames
People around the world, predominantly those from the third world, developing countries, stand over open flames to cook on a daily basis. Outdated cooking utensils and methods are often fueled by solid materials, which release harmful gaseous residues into the air as they burn, contaminating the air in the process. These residues can have catastrophic effects when trapped indoors, as this leads to inhalation on a daily basis by both humans and animals. Plants are not left out either.

Avoid usage of non-biodegradable materials indoors
This is more of a generalized solution for both indoor and outdoor. Making use of Polystyrene-based products, such as Styrofoam, can be potentially deadly due to the fact that over 50 different chemical byproducts are released during the creation of Styrofoam. This not only results in air pollution that affects our environment, but can also result in liquid waste that can easily find its way into our homes.