According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air quality refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures as it relates to the health and comfort of its occupants.
Indoor air quality is affected by temperature, humidity, ventilation, and chemical or biological contaminants found within the air inside a building.
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns.
Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.
Some health effects may show up shortly after a single exposure or repeated exposures to a pollutant. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable. Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be identified. Soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants, symptoms of some diseases such as asthma may show up, be aggravated or worsened.
The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors including age and preexisting medical conditions. In some cases, whether a person reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants after repeated or high level exposures.
Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the time and place symptoms occur. If the symptoms fade or go away when a person is away from the area, for example, an effort should be made to identify indoor air sources that may be possible causes. Some effects may be made worse by an inadequate supply of outdoor air coming indoors or from the heating, cooling or humidity conditions prevalent indoors.
Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.
While pollutants commonly found in indoor air can cause many harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty about what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific health problems. People also react very differently to exposure to indoor air pollutants. Further research is needed to better understand which health effects occur after exposure to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes and which occurs from the higher concentrations that occur for short periods of time.
- Why is indoor air quality important?
- What can cause poor indoor air quality?
- Prevent Poor Indoor Air Quality
Why is indoor air quality important?
Pollutants building up in your home can result not only in unpleasant odors, but also serious health issues such as:
- Sore eyes
- Burning nose
- Worsening of allergies
- Respiratory issues
- Flu-like symptoms
- Heart disease
- Other serious, long-term conditions
- Death (carbon monoxide and other pollutants in high concentrations)
What can cause poor indoor air quality?
- Indoor pets
- Dust mites
- Inadequate whole-house ventilation
- Improperly vented combustion appliances and fireplaces (carbon monoxide)
- Mold and mildew resulting from moisture damage and high humidity
- VOCs from chemical cleaning products and pesticides
- Building materials containing asbestos, formaldehyde, and lead
- High temperature and humidity can also increase the levels of some pollutants
Prevent Poor Indoor Air Quality
Air Duct Cleaning
Your home may look pristine throughout, however pollutants like mold, bacteria, and dust could be hidden within your air ducts, effecting your air quality. The professional technicians at Green Apple Mechanical can inspect your ductwork, cleaning and repairing it as necessary to prevent the contamination of your home.
Changing air filters regularly – at least every two to three months or once a year for box-type filters – improves air quality inside your home, cuts down on energy use, as well as prevents damage and prolongs the life of your heating and cooling system by reducing resistance. Higher efficiency filters can even reduce irritants such as mold spores, pollen, and bacteria. Check with a professional before installing specialty filters, however, as certain filters may be incompatible, causing damage to your system.
Air Purifiers/Electronic Air Cleaners
Air cleaners improve air quality by removing harmful pollutants from the air such as smoke, mold, viruses, and allergens. Whole-house air purifiers are more effective than portable varieties. Whole-house purifiers can be added to your HVAC system and can trap and filter pollutants such as dust, smoke, mold, pet dander, and more. They often include features such as HEPA technology (for improved filtration of the smallest particles), carbon filtration (for gaseous pollutants), and UV light (for disinfection), making them more effective.
High temperature and humidity can increase the levels of indoor pollutants. Controlling mold with a whole-house dehumidifier can help reduce allergy causing mold and mildew. Used in conjunction with your central heating and air, whole-house dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air in your home, improving indoor air quality.
Air inside your home is two to five times more polluted than the air outside. Bringing fresh air into your home with the help of mechanical ventilation such as window fans, attic fans, and energy efficient heat recovery, whole-house ventilators will not only boost indoor air quality, but also help keep your home more comfortable.
General Vacuuming and Cleaning
Daily vacuuming and dusting can control larger particles, however the smallest particles – the cause of the most irritation – can only be removed with filtering devices.
Improve your indoor air quality and breathe easier. Contact Green Apple Mechanical today. Our professional technicians can help you find the perfect solution for your home’s indoor air quality issues.
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