According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. Therefore, it’s essential to pay attention to the quality of air inside our homes and offices. Indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air since many hazardous substances and particles that enter the building accumulate over time.
Here are the top 10 factors that affect indoor air quality and what you can do about them:
The most common factors that affect indoor air quality include things like air pollution, mold and mildew, chemicals from household products, radon gas, secondhand smoke, and pet dander among others.
To help improve your indoor air quality it’s important to clean regularly and use natural cleaning products, inspect for leaks, ventilation, and mold or mildew growth, use air purifiers with HEPA filters, and check regularly for radon gas. It is also important to keep pets out of bedrooms, don’t smoke inside the house, and ensure proper maintenance of any heating and cooling systems in the home.
1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Also known as, VOCs, these are chemical compounds released from items such as carpeting, paint, furniture, and cleaning products. These chemicals can be harmful and may cause health problems such as headaches, dizziness, and respiratory issues. To reduce the concentration of VOCs in your home or office, you should:
- Use natural cleaning products when possible
- Make sure your furniture is made with low-VOC materials
- Open windows to let fresh air circulate
- Ensure your air cleaner is equipped with a carbon filter to remove VOCs from the air
2. Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal when inhaled in high concentrations. It’s produced by burning fuel such as wood or charcoal, and it can build up indoors if not properly vented. To reduce your risk of CO poisoning, you should:
- Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home
- Make sure all fuel-burning appliances are properly vented
- Avoid using gas stoves, furnaces, and other fuel-burning devices indoors
3. Poor Ventilation
Poor air circulation can lead to a buildup of pollutants, including CO2 and VOCs. Typically, ventilation systems should be designed to bring in outdoor air and push out the stale indoor air. This feature should be built into the home. If yours is not functioning as it should, do the following:
- Install an energy recovery ventilator in your home
- Make sure all windows are open regularly to allow fresh air inside
- Have exhaust fans installed in bathrooms and kitchens to expel contaminated air
- You may also want to consider making renovations to make your home more ventilated
High levels of humidity can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause respiratory problems. If you notice that you and those who live with you are having respiratory issues, it is likely due to a high humidity level. To keep your home’s humidity in check, try using a dehumidifier or taking advantage of natural ventilation by opening windows. You can also use fans to circulate the air and help evaporate moisture. Doing so will help keep your home’s humidity at a healthy level.
5. Pets and Pests
Pets and pests can contribute to the poor quality of indoor air by producing allergens such as dander, fur, dust mites, and other irritants. To help improve the air quality in your home, be sure to keep pets well-groomed and bathed regularly. Additionally, it is important to keep an eye out for signs of infestation and take steps to eliminate any pests that have infiltrated your home.
6. Combustion Appliances
Combustion appliances, such as gas stoves and furnaces, can be a major source of air pollution in the home if not properly vented. This is especially true if they are not optimally maintained or if they are too old. It is important to have these appliances inspected and serviced regularly, as well as make sure that any vents and chimneys are in good condition.
How hot or cold your home is can impact the quality of your indoor air. If the temperature is warm, it can create an environment that is conducive to the growth of mold, dust mites, and other pollutants. It is important to keep your home at a comfortable temperature for both you and your family, as well as make sure you are using air conditioners or heaters that are properly maintained.
8. Radon Gas
Radon gas is an invisible, odorless, and tasteless gas that can be found in some homes. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil and rocks, and it can seep into your home through cracks in walls or floors. Long-term exposure to radon gas has been linked to increased risk for lung cancer, so it’s important to test for radon and take steps to reduce it, if necessary.
9. Outdoor Dirt and Pollution
The air outside can affect the air quality inside your home. If you live in a highly polluted area, like near a busy highway or industrial plant, it’s important to make sure that your windows and doors are sealed tightly and that you use an effective filter on your HVAC system to keep out any outdoor pollutants.
Bacteria, molds, and other microbes can cause poor indoor air quality. This is particularly concerning if you have allergies or asthma, as mold spores and bacteria can irritate the lungs and trigger respiratory symptoms. To reduce the presence of microbes in your home, keep it clean and dry with regular vacuuming and mopping using a chemical-free cleaner. You can also use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to reduce the presence of mold, bacteria, and other allergens.
Schedule an HVAC Service With Carney & Son 72 Degrees
Finally, it’s important to make sure that your HVAC system is running efficiently. Regularly scheduled maintenance and filter changes will help keep the air in your home clean and healthy. A professional technician from Carney & Son 72 Degrees can also inspect your vents for any potential issues and make sure that everything is working as it should. We may even recommend additional solutions to help improve your home’s air quality. Reach us today to learn more.