If you’ve even been on the lookout for a new place, then you know that (in the end) we all sort of turn into the picky clientele of HGTV’s House Hunters. Because as easy as that show is to make fun of (YOU CAN CHANGE THE PAINT COLOR, GUYS), it’s also pretty easy to fixate on your list of “must haves” when apartment hunting. You totally need outdoor space for a grill. Or you’ll die if you and your roommate don’t each have your own bathroom (Literally because you’ll kill them if they leave the cap off your toothpaste…again. How hard is it to buy your own toothpaste??). And, of course, it’s absolutely crucial to have an open floor plan — with the kitchen flowing into the main living space — for parties. Come on. You. Need. It.
These things are important, but what many of us spend considerably less time considering is the quality of the air in that perfect loft with views of the city. Is it by a busy street with exhaust flying in every time you open the door? Does the person with the balcony next to yours smoke outside — second-hand particles drifting in through your screen? And that second floor duplex with a faux fireplace, crown molding, and tons old Hollywood charm might be everything you’ve ever dreamed of, but if the people before you had cats, are the charming old vents pumping out a little bit of cat hair every time you turn on the heat? It’s gross to think about, but in pretty much all of our homes, pollutants, allergens, and other invisible particles are floating around without us having any idea. Well, other than wondering why we suddenly have to pop antihistamines every day just to get by in our new perfect space.
“If you think about our lungs, they’re constantly filtering air,” Dr. Thomas Ardiles, a pulmonologist and assistant professor at the University of Arizona Phoenix School of Medicine, says. “So if the quality of the air that goes in changes, and you have a disease like asthma, COPD, or even some interstitial lung disease in which your lungs are weak, then the quality of the air can make your lungs become more inflamed. Definitely, that air can make your health decline.”