Indoor air quality: the invisible, intangible factor in your home or business that can have a huge impact on everyone’s health. In this guide, our heating and air conditioning experts at 1-800-anytyme discuss indoor air quality. We will cover what indoor quality is, how it can be adversely affected, and what property owners can do to keep it as pristine as possible. Read on for your comprehensive guide to indoor air quality, and contact San Diego, CA HVAC experts for more info on indoor air quality!
What is Indoor Air Quality?
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality is a metric that refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Indoor air quality is influenced by a number of factors both inside and outside of buildings. When indoor air quality is sufficiently poor, it can lead to health concerns for people and pets in a given indoor space. Learn more about the health risks posed by poor indoor air quality in the following section.
The Health Risks Posed by Poor Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality is caused by pollutants in an indoor air supply. Exposure to these air pollutants can cause health issues ranging from mild and immediate to severe and chronic. For kids and adults alike, the immediate health effects of poor indoor air quality include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, headaches, and fatigue. The severity of these short-term reactions varies from person to person due to factors such as a person’s age and other preexisting conditions, as well as the severity of the indoor air pollution itself.
Long-term health effects of poor indoor air quality can include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer — all of which can be severely debilitating, if not fatal, in the individuals they affect. The likelihood of these long-term effects manifesting is determined in large part by the extent of air pollution, the degree and duration of exposure to pollutants, and the preexisting conditions of exposed parties. Those individuals with asthma or other preexisting respiratory conditions will likely find that poor indoor air quality exacerbates their conditions.
The Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality can contribute to serious health concerns for people of all ages and demographic groups. The reason that contaminated air is so deadly to the human body is this air contains a number of toxic substances.
Put simply, the substances that contribute to poor indoor air quality (and the ones that cause the worst health problems) are the very same substances that are harmful to ingest in any manner. These include a host of synthetic chemicals, dust, burnt material, molds, bacteria, and many other substances. These indoor air pollutants can come from multiple sources, including:
- Fuel-burning combustion appliances
- Tobacco products
- Building materials and furnishings (including asbestos insulation, newly installed flooring, carpet, or upholstery); and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
- Dirty central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
- Excess moisture
- Outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and general outdoor air pollution
Measuring Your Indoor Air Quality
Measuring the indoor air quality in your home or business is next to impossible without the assistance of specialized instruments. Unless your indoor air is in truly dire straits, it can be difficult to tell much of anything about your indoor air by simply standing in your space. In fact, many property owners may go years without knowing that their properties have contaminated and potentially unhealthy air. However, just because indoor air quality can’t be measured without mechanized and/or professional assistance, it doesn’t mean you should skip out on routinely checking the air in your property. Hiring an air quality specialist to sample and test the air in your home or business can help you take the first step to improving the indoor in your property and the health of those under your roof.
Improving Your Indoor Air Quality
Though poor indoor air quality is a serious issue that can have severe health consequences, it is also highly treatable. Take the following steps to improve the indoor air quality in your home or business.
- Step 1: Test Your Indoor Air: The first step to improving your air is to have your indoor air tested. By scheduling an air test and inspection with professionals in your area, you can accurately determine the state of your air and begin to build a plan to improve your air quality.
- Step 2: Follow Professional Advice: During air quality inspections, most professional teams won’t just test your air. They’ll also inspect your home or business to identify potential air contaminants. When you receive your indoor air inspection report, be sure to listen to the recommendations of the technicians inspecting your property. Their advice can help you in figuring out how to stop indoor air pollution at its source.
- Step 3: Check Your HVAC System: Dirty or damaged HVAC components are one of the leading contributors to indoor air pollution in both homes and businesses. By having your HVAC system inspected and by cleaning all of its components (especially changing the air filters, which should be done every 2-3 months), you can greatly improve your indoor air quality.
- Step 4: Upgrade Your Appliances: Old fuel-burning combustion appliances can greatly contaminate the air quality in an indoor space with combustion pollutants. If you have a boiler, warm air heater, water heater, fireplace, stove, or cooker that is over 20 years old, it may be time to upgrade.
- Step 5: Reduce Moisture: Excess moisture in an indoor space can lead to the increased presence of mold and bacteria, both of which need moisture to survive. These microscopic lifeforms can toxify the air and lead to a number of health problems for residents. By keeping moisture out of your indoor space and keeping your humidity levels low, you can help keep your air uncontaminated.
- Step 6: Clean Your Indoor Space: Dust, dirt, and other debris from clutter and generally unclean areas can find their way into the air supply of an indoor space, worsening air quality over time. By keeping your indoor space clean and clutter-free, you can help keep these contaminants out of your indoor air.
- Step 7: Check Your Outdoor Property for Potential Air Contaminants: Even the most well-kept indoor space can still be susceptible to air quality issues. That’s because all indoor air supplies are connected to the larger outdoor air supplies around them. When the air outside is contaminated, the air inside suffers, too. Though there is little that individual property owners can do to change the quality of outdoor air on a large scale, we can all reduce outdoor air contaminants on our own properties. Keeping pollen-releasing plants to a minimum, avoiding pesticides, and using electric tools instead of gas-powered equipment are all great ways to reduce outdoor contamination on your property.
To make sure your indoor air quality is not affecting the lives of everyone in the building, it would be best to contact Right Now Air to test out your air quality as soon as possible.