The air you breathe inside could be just as bad as it is outdoors

Aug 31, 2021, 2:10 PM | Updated: 4:54 pm
tips to keep smoke out of your house...
Smoke covers the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain range, as seen from near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. Photo: Simone Seikaly, KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY —  A new study is underway across Salt Lake valley in which researchers from University of Utah Health and Salt Lake Regional Development are monitoring the air inside ten homes. The study began early this summer and will run through the winter of 2022.

The data they have collected so far shows that smoke from California’s wildfires has infiltrated homes. On August 6th when the huge smoke storm moved into the Wasatch Front, research monitors showed the air quality inside one home had spiked above a dangerous level and that it stayed that way for several hours.

Then, the air quality remained in the orange range (or moderate air quality) for nearly two days (shown in the graph below).

Graph provided by Salt Lake County Regional Development for August 2021.

Jordan Carroll, Communications Director for Salt Lake Regional Development, said smoke particles are so small they can seep into houses and create bad air quality.  But, smoke isn’t the only thing affecting the air in a home.

“Using harsh cleaning supplies and dampness from things like swamp coolers can also impact air quality in a negative way,” said Carroll.  

“There is a common misconception that indoor air quality is vastly different from outdoor air quality and always better,” said Dr. Daniel Mendoza the CEO of AQEHS Corp which is helping to collect data for the study.

“Unfortunately, activities, such as cooking and vacuuming, can make indoor air quality worse than outdoors. Very small particles, such as from the wildfires we are currently experiencing, are able to work their way in a home through any small cracks and openings.”

Tips to help keep homes healthier

But there are some things we can do to make the air in our homes healthier to breathe.

“Washing bed linens and least once a week.  And dusting and vacuuming to keep smoke and other unhealthy particles down,” Carrol said.

Although Carroll did recommend only dusting and vacuuming when the outside air quality was moderate or better.  She said on really bad air quality days you could make things worse as the particles in your home move around, especially if you have underlying health issues.

“You can also buy Hepa filters, but those can be expensive,” Carroll added.  

A statement from UofU Health and SLCO Regional Development said residents can do a lot without having to purchase expensive items to clean their inside air.  Along with dusting and vacuuming mentioned above, they recommend fixing water leaks to keep down damp conditions and mold and to test your home for radon.

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The air you breathe inside could be just as bad as it is outdoors