The impact of the El Nino phenomenon extends beyond rainfall and temperature fluctuations. It can have significant consequences for indoor air quality. The changes in humidity levels associated with El Nino create an environment that is ideal for the growth of mould, the spread of allergens and the presence of airborne pollutants.
Of course, this can lead to various health issues and discomfort for individuals, especially those with ongoing or chronic respiratory issues.
However, with the help of air treatment appliances such as air purifiers, dehumidifiers and also humidifiers, you can take proactive steps to safeguard your indoor air quality during El Nino and ensure a healthier living environment.
As Australia looks to be bracing for a ‘super El Nino’ this year, Ionmax will delve into the importance of indoor air quality during the El Nino phenomenon and the tools you can use to mitigate the weather’s impact.
What happens during a super El Nino?
If you're unfamiliar with El Nino, it is a climatic phenomenon that occurs in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that is characterised by warmer than average sea surface temperatures.
It is often associated with a shift in atmospheric circulation, leading to changes in rainfall patterns, temperatures and ocean currents. Most times, it causes extreme weather events in various regions including Australia.
A super El Nino is an exceptionally strong and intense El Nino occurrence. During a super El Nino, the effects can be more severe and widespread and can increases the chances of droughts, floods, heatwaves and changes in precipitation patterns.
In contrast, La Nina is the counterpart to El Nino and represents a period of cooler than average sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. the effects of this phenomenon, however, are contrasting to El Nino, causing increased rainfall in certain regions or more active hurricane seasons.
The effects of El Nino on indoor air quality
During El Nino, one of the significant impacts caused is the potential increase in humidity and moisture levels indoors. This happens because of the atmospheric circulation patterns, which lead to more frequent and intense rainfall in certain regions.
Increased indoor humidity and moisture have detrimental effects on indoor air quality. Some potential outcomes include
- Mould growth – it’s been well documented that excessive moisture provides the perfect environment and conditions for the growth of mould and mildew. These fungi can grow and spread around your living space through microscopic mould spores that, if inhaled, can cause harmful health effects, including respiratory issues and allergic reactions.
- Increase in allergens – increased moisture in the air causes dust particles to stick together and form larger clumps which make them heavier and they will eventually settle on surfaces, resulting in a higher accumulation of visible dust. High humidity levels paired with poor ventilation will potentially lead to a haze-like appearance as there will be more noticeable dust particles floating around the air. It’s also worth noting that forest fires are prone during this period, causing smoke and dust particles from nearby fires to find their way into your homes.
- Poor air quality – not only do high humidity levels create ideal breeding grounds for mould and mildew, but humid conditions are also perfect for the growth of other bacteria, viruses and microorganisms. These contaminants can eventually become airborne and potentially cause respiratory issues and other health issues. It’s worth noting that pests and insects tend to favour high humidity levels as well, so you are likely to see an influx of pests in your home during this time if humidity is not in check.
With super El Nino expected to happen, you could expect to see more severe effects of the above which also undoubtedly increase the risks of drought, heatwaves and bushfires.
Fixes to indoor air quality issues
To mitigate the effects of increased humidity during El Nino, taking proactive measures is essential. Ionmax recommends the following steps to control humidity levels and remove allergens from the air:
- Proper ventilation – proper ventilation can be easily achieved by opening up a window, door or any other opening in a room to allow the exchange of indoor and outdoor air. Ventilation helps to get rid of excess moisture from indoor spaces, as when outdoor air is brought in, it dilutes the moisture content of the indoor air. Ventilation keeps humidity levels in check and prevents moisture build-up.
- Moisture control – avoid having a build-up of moisture around your home by repairing any leaks, water damage, spills and other issues promptly to avoid the evaporation of water that will increase the percentage of moisture in the air. An effective way to control moisture in your home is through dehumidifiers. Ionmax dehumidifiers are effective in removing moisture brought about by spills, flood damage and generally high levels of humidity. Pay extra attention to areas prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and basements.
- Regular cleaning – thorough cleaning will help minimise the build-up of dust, allergens, and other pollutants in your living space.
- Using air purifiers for El Nino – using air purifiers with HEPA filters will help effectively capture and remove airborne particles, which include allergens including mould spores, viruses and bacteria, pet dander and other contaminants. Ionmax air purifiers are equipped with HEPA air purifiers and can remove up to 99.97% of airborne particles as small as .03 microns, including dust, allergens and germs from your home.
READ MORE: The role of humidity in home maintenance
By being educated and aware of the potential consequences brought about by increased humidity and moisture levels during El Nino and taking the right measures, a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment becomes achievable for you and your loved ones.
Choosing the right air purifier for El Nino
As mentioned earlier, El Nino is more than likely to increase the concentration of allergens and dust in the air. Forest fires will only serve to increase the build-up of contaminants in the air while windy conditions are likely to push them into unwanted places, including homes and other establishments.
Fortunately, air purifiers with HEPA filters are able to filter out tiny particles and release cleaner, healthier indoor air back into your living space, ensuring cleaner breathing. When looking for the right air purifier for El Nino, pay attention to the following criteria:
Coverage area – all air purifiers come with a recommended room size coverage, meaning that the clean air produced by the air purifier in question can deliver cleaner, purified air to the stated room size, usually measured in square meters (sqm/m) or cubic meters (m). Choosing the right size ensures optimal air purification performance.
- Filtration technology – the most effective air purifiers usually utilise a combination of different filters led by a HEPA filter to effectively eliminate any contaminants from the air before releasing cleaner, purified air back into your living space. Ionmax air purifiers utilise up to a six-stage filtration system equipped with a HEPA filter, an activated carbon filter (for removing odours), a titanium dioxide filter and more for optimal air purification.
CADR – the clean air delivery rate of every air purifier will indicate the amount of air that the unit can process within an hour. This is usually measured in cubic meters per hour (m/h). The higher the CADR of the unit, the more efficient it is at purifying the air in your home.
Ioniser – ionisers work by emitting negatively charged ions into the air, which then attach to positively charged dust particles and other pollutants, causing them to become heavier and fall to the ground. This makes it easier to clean and also reduces the chances of individuals breathing them in.
READ MORE: Air purifier FAQs
Additional strategies for maintaining indoor air quality during El Nino
In addition to using air purifiers and dehumidifiers to improve indoor air quality during El Nino, here are some additional tips to better IAQ in your home:
- Using indoor house plants can act as natural air purifiers to remove dust and other pollutants in your home.
- Minimising the use of chemicals in your daily life will also reduce the concentration of pollutants in your home. This includes air fresheners, pesticides and certain cleaning agents.
- Use window coverings such as blinds, curtains or shades on your window to block out direct sunlight.
- Stay hydrated.
By implementing these methods above paired with the use of an Ionmax air purifier, you're is bound to minimise the effects of El Nino and enjoy cleaner, more comfortable air in your home.
Ionmax air purifiers and dehumidifiers are equipped with innovative and effective air treatment properties to help fight the effects of El Nino in your home, helping you get through the heatwave and breathe easier. Browse the entire Ionmax catalogue now!
For more information on air quality management, check out Ionmax blogs and resources for expert advice and insight into the topic.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your needs.