Every year, cold and flu season arrives, and it usually sticks around for quite awhile. Most people tend to associate the season with cooler temperatures, but never really consider why illnesses increase during this period.
It is often assumed the chances of getting the cold or flu are increased by not washing hands and improper sanitization. This is true, but what often goes unrealized is that the quality of your indoor air also has a lot to do with the spread of cold and flu causing microorganisms.
Cold and flu season typically begins early fall and lasts well into spring – the time of year most of us spend more of our days indoors. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside your home is nearly 7-10 times more contaminated than the air outside. It’s no wonder when each sneeze and cough containing bacterial and viral pathogens is being released and recirculated throughout your home.
You know to wipe down surfaces, wash your hands, and avoid those who you know are sick, but how do you clean the air? Luckily, with the right system in your home, it’s possible and easy to accomplish.
How to Reduce the Spread of Germs Install a biocide chamber. Biocide chambers use UV lights. UV lights, used by hospitals and laboratories for years, work in conjunction with your air conditioner or furnace to sterilize harmful cold and flu-causing organisms. In nature, UV energy from the sun is used to cleanse outdoor air and inhibit the growth of mircoorganisms. Just like outside, UV lamps inside your home can have the same effect. They work by damaging the microorganism’s DNA. When the structure of the DNA is altered, the virus or bacteria is incapable of reproducing and thus spreading illness throughout your home. UV lights are great because unlike other sanitary methods, the pathogens and microorganisms cannot develop a resistance to the light. This means the UV light will always be an effective method of sterilizing the air in your home.
Install a humidifier. It has been shown that changes in relative humidity can affect the frequency of someone catching a cold or succumbing to the flu. The microorganisms responsible for the cold and flu thrive in environments with low humidity, which is usually during the cooler months of the year. Installing a humidifier can help you balance the relative humidity inside your home and make it an environment less friendly to germs. Plus, adding a humidifier has the added benefit of increasing your comfort because your skin and inner lining of your nose will maintain a more balanced level of moisture. This means you won’t experience the itchiness often associated with dry winter air and the sore nose that is more vulnerable to viral infection.
Other Ways to Clear the Air While these methods aren’t designed to remove germs from the air, they can really help with removing the particulates contributing to allergies and asthma which can make your cold or flu symptoms that much worse.
Change your air filter on a regular basis. Your air filter is the first line of defense against spreading airborne particulates including dust, pollen and pet dander throughout your home. If you or someone in your home suffers from allergies, changing your air filter regularly will help – especially when the allergy sufferer is already suffering from cold or flu symptoms.
Install a bioguard powered filter. Bioguard filters, or electric air cleaners, are designed to replace your existing furnace or air conditioning filter. Unlike traditional filters, which are designed to capture larger particulates and mostly protect the unit, bioguard filters actually capture and remove airborne particles from the air.