When we think about pollutants, we often think about those found outside whether in the air, the ground, or in waterways. Indoor air quality, though, is just as vital to our everyday lives and health. The pollutants found inside our homes should concern us just as much, if not more.

Let’s take a look at some information on indoor air quality and more to highlight what families need to know about their indoor air quality and why having healthy indoor air quality is so important!

The Truth About Indoor Air Quality

Particles or gasses that are not normally part of the air affect air quality. This is called air pollution. Air pollution can also happen indoors. Why is this?

You bring outdoor air inside any time you open a door or window. You can also bring in pollen and smoke. Leaks around doors and windows can let in polluted outdoor air.

Indoor air can have allergens like dust, pet dander and mold. Humidity can lead to higher dust mite levels. Particles are released into the air by furnaces, wood-burning fires and candles. Cooking sends oil and fat particulates into the air. Newly installed floors and furniture can release chemicals.

Clean outdoor air needs to replace indoor air often or else the indoor air becomes more polluted. Otherwise allergens, smells and pollutants stay in your home and recirculate. Because newer, more energy-efficient homes don’t have the same gaps and cracks as older homes, there’s less air circulation.

Primary Causes of Poor IAQ

The EPA cites several factors that can contribute to poor indoor air quality but maintains indoor pollution that releases gases or particles as the primary cause of poor IAQ. Moreover, inadequate ventilation can increase pollutant levels by not bringing in enough fresh outdoor air or expelling polluted air from the home. High temperatures and humidity levels can also lead to poor indoor air quality, especially in warmer months.

Other pollutant sources include:

  • Poorly maintained HVAC system
  • Excess moisture
  • Radon
  • Fuel-burning combustion appliances
  • Tobacco products
  • Asbestos-containing insulation and other deteriorated building materials
  • Household cleaning or personal care products and materials for hobbies
  • Pet hair or dander
  • Dust or dirt

Concentrations of indoor pollutants in the air vary as the relative factor of any given single source depends on how much it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. Some sources like household cleaners or building materials like asbestos may be released on a continuous basis. Because of this, it makes them more dangerous to your health in the long-term.

Why You Should Invest

You spend more time in your home than anywhere else, which means you breathe more air in your home than anywhere else. Regularly breathing dirty air can have a significant impact on your lasting health. Just think about the idea of you breathing contaminated air for ten years and the health implications that it will have.

The worst part is that breathing contaminated air for a decade is a real possibility for some homeowners, and the longer you breathe pollutant-filled air, the worse it might be for you down the road. The United States Environmental Protection Agency even marks indoor air quality as a primary concern for homeowners.

–    Breathe Better

–    Sleep Better

–    Relieve Allergies

–    Eliminate Airborne Mold

6 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ):

1. Replace the air filter

Remembering to replace the air filter every 30-60 days is the best thing you can do to trap indoor air pollutants and make sure the air inside is clean and breathable. The air in your home gets recycled throughout your duct system. If your air filter is dirty and clogged, you risk doing damage to your HVAC system in addition to adding unnecessary particles to the indoor air.

2. Consider cleaning your air ducts

Since all the air in your home eventually makes its way through your central air duct system, you want to make sure that it is cleaned every once in a while. A good rule of thumb is to schedule a air duct cleaning every 5-7 years, however, it depends on the circumstances. Dirtier homes require more frequent cleanings.

A good way to tell if you are up for a duct cleaning is to take a peak inside your air ducts. Simply unscrew one of the vents/registers and stick your flash camera inside to take a pic.

The pictures will come out very dirty, somewhat dirty, or fairly clean. If you see medium-to-large objects and dust bunnies galore, it’s probably time to call a local HVAC company to inspect the home for dirty air ducts. Learn whether or not you should have your air ducts cleaned on epa.gov.

3. Have licensed technician inspect HVAC ventilation

It’s extremely important to have an adequate ventilation system for your heating and cooling system, as well as for your kitchen and bathroom. Without proper ventilation, you can risk carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and other effects of fuel combustion.

All fuel-burning appliances give off some amount of CO, so it’s important that any combustion-based appliance or machine is operated outdoors or installed and checked by a professional. This is just one of the reasons you want to schedule HVAC maintenance before every heating season (early fall is the best time).

4. Increase ventilation around other parts of the home

The reason why your indoor air is so much more polluted than the outdoor air is because the natural environment has things like the sun and plants to help filter and clean the air. While indoor plants and open windows help, you may want to invest in an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) so that you don’t bring in the outside temperatures with the air.

5. Check your household cleaners

Ironically, many cleaners are dirtying your indoor air and potentially making you sick. Cleaners, paints, and other chemical-based products often release harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air that can cause respiratory problems and much worse. Learn more about the effects of VOCs and which household products are safe to use.

6. Look into IAQ products

There are all sorts of types of Indoor Air Quality products that have different features to improve your air! From germicidal ultraviolet light lamps to electrostatic air filters, there is something out there for every homeowner. If you are looking for more information on these products, be sure to call a professional HVAC company for help!