How to reduce stuffiness in a room?

In this blog post, we will discuss “How to reduce stuffiness in a room?” Firstly, the post will address the basics of air pollution. Then, the article will briefly discuss indoor air pollution. After that, we will find out the meaning and reason of stuffiness in a room. Finally, the article will primarily focus on reducing stuffiness in a room. In the end, it will also give a detailed solution to protect yourself from any form of air pollution.

How to reduce stuffiness in a room?

Stuffiness and stale air inside a room is significant sign of indoor poor air quality. Living in a stuffy room can make you sick. These are the following symptoms after inhaling stale air:

  • Skin Irritation
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Allergic reaction
  • Respiratory problems like asthma.

First, let’s see the basics of air pollution.

What is air pollution?

The introduction of harmful agents into the atmosphere is known as air pollution. The toxic agents are known as pollutants. These pollutants are derived from natural and human activities, and they can be chemical or biological.

Major pollutants present in the air are particulate matter (PM), ground-level ozone (O3), NO2, SO2, and CO. Air also has lead, allergens, bacteria, viruses and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Besides climate change, air pollution has become a significant environmental risk to human health. 

What is indoor air pollution?

Air pollution in any closed environment is called indoor air pollution. Many household activities such as heating, cooking, cleaning and other miscellaneous activities significantly contribute to indoor air pollution. Therefore, indoor pollution contributes to ambient air pollution. In addition, many regular household products such as cleaning sprays, varnish, paints, solvent removers, perfumes, tobacco smoke and incense stick can pollute the air.

Asbestos can also cause deterioration of indoor air. It is found in various products such as home construction materials, and they are commonly detected in paints, coatings, ceilings and floor tiles. Generally, the old products or older houses would be having more presence of this toxic material than the newer ones.

Asbestos can cause shortness of breath, loss of appetite, chest pain, tightness and persistence of dry cough. But the good news is that the United States has banned its use in construction activities and it’s no longer used. Formaldehydes group are colourless gas having a pungent smell. Even though its production has been banned in the United States since 1970, they are still found in paints, sealants and wooden floors. Carpets also use formaldehyde as permanent adhesives.

Radon is one such toxic agent which is found underneath homes. Radon is usually discovered in bedrock and other building materials that cause indoor air pollution. The gases from radon can seep through the basement and cause a significant risk to the residents. Tobacco smoke is also one of the neglected and concerning air pollutants. The study also revealed that pregnant women smoking cigarettes caused a potential threat to the fetus development; the smoke can cause molecular changes. In addition, the tobacco smoke exposure of the mothers caused hindrances in the lung development of the fetus. Researchers further analyzed that such children at early stages and later teens got asthma or experienced asthmatic problems.

You would like to keep fresh flowers keeping in your living room. You also would be having furry friends living with you. Though I am not very keen on plucking flowers or purchasing them to decorate my house, I love doggies and other furry pets. But they all come with one big drawback. They can produce biological pollutants such as pollens, mould, bacteria, viruses and animal dander, developing asthmatic symptoms in people. 

Gas appliances such as heaters, wood stoves, space heaters, dryers, fireplaces and space heaters release hazardous pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates. Carbon monoxide and particulates, as mentioned earlier, causes many respiratory and heart-related ailments. High levels of nitrogen dioxide can cause a hazard to the human respiratory tract. It can increase the susceptibility to various respiratory infections and asthma. Prolonged exposure to elevated amounts of nitrogen dioxide can result in chronic lung disease. It can also affect the smelling ability of humans.

The fumes released from the paraffin wax candles causes air to pollute. Research done by South Carolina State University said that paraffin wax releases toxic chemicals such as benzene and toluene indoors. Even the office stationeries such as copiers, laser printers, correction fluids, etc., release volatile organic compounds which deeply penetrate the lungs and inflame their linings. Besides, dry cleaned laundry clothes contain highly toxic substances such as trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene. All the pollutants, as mentioned earlier, can cause throat and nose irritation, flu, dizziness, anaemia and other allergic reactions. They can irritate your respiratory tract too. In addition, toxic chemicals can cause lung cancer and damage vital organs such as the liver, kidney and brain.

Now that we understand indoor air pollution briefly let’s dive in to know the reason for a stuffy room.

What makes your room stuffy?

Air in your room might be stuffy due to various reasons. One of the prominent reasons is continuous closed windows and lack of ventilation. A room closed for a long time can result in stuffier air. Consistent closure of windows and non-accessibility to the ambient air can lead to larger and expensive problems within a home; it can stagnate air inside the room.

Moreover, stagnant air inside a room can trap several airborne particles such as dust, mould spores. Even tobacco smoke can stick to your clothes. The overall dirt and poor indoor air quality can release a musty smell and make you feel not fresh every day. Such stuffy and stale air is not only unpleasant to smell; it can affect your health too. Therefore, you shouldn’t underestimate such a smell. 

Much scientific research has concluded that stale smell and smelly feel is because of the accumulation of certain chemicals and humidity levels in the air. Scientists further noted that the ratio of airborne contaminants to oxygen begins to increase. This happens because of the depletion of oxygen and lack of fresh air. Besides mould spores and dust particles, biological by-products such as exhaled carbon dioxide and microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs).

Microbial volatile organic compounds or MVOCs are carbon-based molecules. They have a very low odour threshold. This means that even some tiny colonies can be a reason for the musty smell. These contaminants are formed due to bacterial and fungal growth. Such sources release a strong, peculiar stuffy odour. Such a type of smell can be sensed in a bank’s basement or locker rooms. Further, some bacteria and fungi can generate ammonia and sulphurous compounds.

In addition, a wide range of other volatile organic compound metabolic waste products are released by fungi and bacteria, which can alter the smell of a room. Such toxic elements are present in an enclosed space with minimum windows such as toilets, drains, and other rooms having improper ventilation. Besides, you might also notice a stale smell in a crowded room. This might be probably due to a short-term increase in humidity and carbon dioxide released from the people. The exhaled breath from humans has high levels of moisture content that increase the relative humidity in a room. 

How to know whether your room is stuffy?

Well, firstly, check out the smell of the room. If you smell dampness and stale air inside, then your room is stuffy. Secondly, your walls can speak volumes when the room is stuffy. Such type of air causes moisture to retain in the walls, ceilings or floors. Moreover, an overcrowded room makes your room stuffy with increased humidity levels. In addition, in winter months can lead to an increase of stuffiness inside the room—also, humidity increases in dry winter months.

How is stuffy air unhealthy for you?

The accumulation of carbon dioxide, bacteria, fungi, mould spores, humidity and MVOCs, can severely impact human health. Constant exposure to bad smells can make you less productive and affect your sleep. Medical experts have noted that prolonged exposure to such contaminants can cause eye, nose and throat irritation. It can also cause coughing, wheezing, fatigue and headache. Moreover, experts have warned that stuffy air can exacerbate symptoms associated with sick building syndrome.

Besides, elevated carbon dioxide levels can cause fatigue, confusion and drowsiness. However, such levels are temporary and will decrease once the crowd from an enclosed room disappears.

But not to worry, I will elaborate on steps to reduce stuffiness inside a room.

Steps to reduce stuffiness in a room

Maintaining household or indoor hygiene

You can decrease poor air quality by adequately maintaining indoor hygiene. For example, you can frequently clean your cupboards and open decks to avoid an accumulation of dust particles. You can then vacuum your carpets and sofas at least twice a week. 

Make sure your doggies and cats are well-groomed. Use chimneys and exhaust fans in kitchens. You can also install an exhaust fan in washrooms. Always make sure you are keeping your house well ventilated. 

Keep doors and windows open when possible. Maintain the health of electric appliances such as heaters, humidifiers, AC, fans, air ducts and so on at regular intervals of the year. Avoid overuse of strong perfumes or strong scented candles indoors. You can additionally use indoor plants to make your indoors more lively and fresh.

Indoor plants

Indoor plants do the same work as outdoor ones- they help to purify indoor air naturally. These indoor plants are also easy to maintain.

The indoor plants which I recommend are as follows: 

Air purifiers

Air purifiers help to improve indoor air quality. The risk of getting air pollution-related diseases decreases due to the use of air purifiers. Air purifiers having good HEPA filters do an adequate job of filtering pollutants.

Air Purifiers I recommend are as follows:

NameWhy I recommend it
Blueair Pro XL Air Purifier99.7% of airborne pollutants such as mould, allergens, smoke particles and pollens are captured. 
AIRMEGA 400SReduction of 99.97% of particulates of 0.3 microns. Also responsible for reducing more than 99% of VOCs, NH3 and CH3CHO.Washable and permanent pre-filters are available 
Blueair Pure 121Includes 3-part filtration system. Captures 99% of common airborne PM 2.5 pollutants such as allergens, odours, smoke, mould spores, dust mites and pet dander.An activated carbon filter removes common odours caused by smoke, pets, and gases (VOCs) and smoke caused by wildfires.

Humidifiers

The humidity levels in the office should be maintained between 30 and 50% in the office. This range helps to keep dust mites, mould and other allergens under control. In addition, when AC or heater makes the air in the room dry, humidifiers can maintain correct humidity levels.

Humidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Amazon Basics Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier 4 litre of tank capacityAuto shut-off feature and 12 or 24-hour timer settingsIt can be used in both seasons
MOVTIP HumidifierPortable Mini-humidifier500 ml capacity, still produces longer mistsEasy to operate
LEVOIT HumidifierIt can be used for both seasons6 litres of capacity Easy to clean and has a remote control

Dehumidifiers 

Dehumidifiers also work similarly to humidifiers. It controls the high levels of humidity in the office.

Dehumidifiers I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
Pro Breeze DehumidifierCan extract 50 pints of moisture a dayEnergy-saving auto-off systemBuilt-in Humidity sensor
HOmeLabs DehumidifierEliminates moistness, odour controllerEasy to cleanRemovable water tank
TCL Portable Dehumidifier20 pints of moisture removed per dayIt can be operated at low temperatures tooEasy to maintain

What can I do to protect myself from air pollution?

I will elaborate on some of the measures to protect yourself from air pollution.

Personal Hygiene

You can also fight the effects of air pollution by maintaining personal hygiene:

  • You can cut your nails short to avoid the accumulation of dirt. 
  • You can also practice mouth gargling after coming home to free your mouth from unwanted guests.
  • You can also brush twice a day to keep airborne infections at bay.
  • You can also take steam therapy at home to cleanse your lungs.

Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes, hookahs (shisha), electric vape or any other types of cigars are not at all suitable for your health. It’s best to stop smoking. Active and passive smoking provides the direct entry of harmful pollutants into your body. This causes the risk to your respiration and other organs dependent on it. 

Physical Exercise 

Physical activities have many benefits to your body. It not only improves your stamina and immunity levels but also helps to increase your lung capacity. Yoga, sanas, swimming, running, cycling, brisk walking and dancing are some of the best forms of exercise to improve your health.

Breathing Exercise 

The majority of people in the world don’t breathe properly. However, correct breathing techniques can keep illnesses due to air pollution at bay. A pranayama is a form of yoga asana which helps to improve breathing methods and lung functionality.

Some of the pranayama types that help you fight air pollution are Kapalbhati, Anulom Vilom, Chandra Nadi, Surya Nadi and Bhastrika. It is strongly recommended to learn this art of breath from a well-certified yoga trainer. 

You can also increase your lung muscles by simply taking a deep breath and holding it for a count of 10. Then, slowly breathe out the air. If you can keep your breath for a longer time, then you have good lungs health.

Good diet 

Always go for a well-balanced diet to remain fit and strong. Consistent eating of junk and fast food will increase the risk of obesity and other diseases. In addition, such people are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of air pollution. Instead, add more fresh veggies and fruits to your diet. Also, you can consume less meat to minimise carbon footprints.

You can also add anti-inflammatory foods as these types of food help to cleanse your lungs effectively. Anti-inflammatory foods which I recommend are: 

Immunity booster drinks

You can do your immunity booster drinks by using readily available items in your kitchen. Immunity booster drinks help to cleanse your lungs. Some of the DIY immunity booster drinks are as follows:

  • Take a glass of warm white milk. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Also, add two strands of saffron to it. Drink it at night before sleeping. You will get good sleep, and you will be relieved from chest congestion. 
  • Boil water by adding half cinnamon stick. Drink the spice-infused water once a day. Your sinuses would be cleared up. 
  • Buy an excellent green tea. Prepare a green tea by following the packet instructions. Have it whenever you feel irritation in your throat. 
  • Take some crushed 1 or 2 peppercorns, a half-inch of a blade of lemongrass and 1 inch of grated ginger and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Add everything in one glass of boiling water and reduce it to half a glass. Drink two tablespoons of this spice-infused warm water every after three hours. Adding honey is optional. 
  • You can also drink warm water and add honey if you want. Honey helps to relieve throat irritation.

Use Mask

Mask can prevent you from inhaling the polluted air. You would be able to work in contaminated areas without any fear of allergy infections and stress. 

Masks I recommend

Name Why I recommend it
BASE CAMP CROSSDUST MASKEAPI Filter Technology & Advanced NanotechnologyUser FriendlyMore Durable Six layers face maskFilter materials of the dust mask: Double-Layer Melt-blown with Electrostatic Adsorption Performance, Activated carbon, Non-woven Polypropylene
NIOSH approved N95 maskFour layers mask Flexible nose pad, dual strapsDisposable maskEasy to breathe
BASE CAMP Reusable Cloth Face MaskThree layers mask; 100% cotton Skin-friendly and breathablePocket to add additional filterReusable Mask

Other FAQs about Air Quality that you may be interested in.

Symptoms of poor air quality due to smoke

Effects of poor air quality on the environment

Does poor air quality make you tired?

Conclusion

In this blog post, we discussed “How to reduce stuffiness in a room?” Firstly, the post addressed the basics of air pollution. Then, the article briefly discussed indoor air pollution. After that, we found out the meaning and reason of stuffiness in a room. Finally, the article primarily focused on reducing stuffiness in a room. In the end, it also gave a detailed solution to protect yourself from any form of air pollution.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to reduce stuffiness in a room?

What are the major indoor air pollutants?

As per the Environmental Protection Agency, the major indoor air pollutants are moisture, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, radon, pesticides, dust particles, viruses and bacteria. They create a damp and stuffy house.

What is good indoor air quality?

Good indoor air quality has the following factors:

  • Temperatures should range from 68.5 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter season
  • The temperature should range from 75 to 80.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer season.
  • Indoor relative humidity should be equal to or less than 65%
  • The EPA has recommended humidity levels between 30-60% to reduce mould growth. 

How can I check the air quality in my house?

The air quality in your house can be checked by doing the following:

  • Invest in a good air quality monitor
  • Test for mould in the air
  • An organization can use carbon monoxide alarms to detect carbon monoxide in the air.
  • Conduct a radon test as high radon levels can affect your health seriously.

What are the symptoms of bad air quality in the office?

Symptoms of bad air quality in the office are common cold, itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, dizziness, and fatigue. However, these symptoms are temporary and are treatable.

Why is my indoor air quality so bad?

 Your indoor air quality might be bad mainly because of poor ventilation systems of the indoors and the presence of sources releasing gases or particles into the air.

How bad is indoor air quality?

Indoor air quality can be responsible for any adverse effects such as headaches, respiratory ailments, chronic cough, sore throat, lethargy and memory lapses. In addition, long-term effects may result in an increased risk of cancer.

Reference

Air, A.C., 2013. Arco Comfort Air. Arco Comfort Air, LLC. Available at: https://www.goarco.com/blog/2013/august/three-tips-to-eliminate-stale-and-stuffy-rooms-i/  

Carrier, What is stale air and how to get rid of it: Carrier residential. Carrier. Available at: https://www.carrier.com/residential/en/us/products/indoor-air-quality/ventilators/stale-air-how-to-get-rid-of-it/#  

Iturzaeta, I., 2020. Why is the air in my room so stuffy? Available at: https://askinglot.com/why-is-the-air-in-my-room-so-stuffy  

Posluszny, C., 2019. What is stale air? it’s chemicals like CO2 and mvocs. Molekule Blog. Available at: https://molekule.science/what-is-stale-air/  

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