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Creating A Healthy Indoor Environment

We spend around 90% of our time indoors. Without proper air filtration and air circulation, the air we breathe inside the dwellings we occupy such as homes, apartments, office buildings, and schools can be 2-5 times more polluted than the outdoor air.

What Causes Indoor Air Problems?

Indoor pollution sources that release gases into the air are one of the main causes of poor indoor air quality in homes. Poor air ventilation and air circulation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not filtering the air with air purification products and also by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.

Sources Of Indoor Air Pollution

There are several sources of indoor air pollution in any dwelling. These include:

  • oil

  • gas

  • kerosene

  • coal

  • wood

  • tobacco products

  • building materials and furnishings, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products

  • products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies

  • outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution

Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and other household products like air fresheners, release pollutants continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently. These include smoking, the use of unvented or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces, or space heaters, the use of solvents in cleaning and hobby activities, the use of paint strippers in redecorating activities, and the use of cleaning products and pesticides in housekeeping.

Indoor Air And Your Health

Whether short-term or long-term exposure to poor indoor air quality, your health is at risk.

Immediate effects may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures, including 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. Symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis may also show up soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants.

The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors. Age and preexisting medical conditions are two important influences. In other 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 pollutants after repeated exposures, and it appears that some people can become sensitized to chemical pollutants as well.

Other health effects may show up 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.

Taking Steps To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

Step 1: Regular Filter replacement

One of the most common reasons for poor indoor air quality is restricted airflow caused by the failure to regularly replace the air filters of the HVAC system. Regularly scheduled air filter replacement maintains maximum air filtration, maximum air circulation, and maximum HVAC efficiency. It is recommended to replace the air filters every 30-90 days, depending on the conditions of the HVAC system and the dwelling. Other factors determining the frequency of filter replacement are the following:

  • Continual exit/re-entry

  • kids

  • pets

  • smokers

  • the age of the system

  • use of cleaning chemicals

Step 2: Regular HVAC Maintenance

The coils and other components of the HVAC system require regular maintenance. Cleaning the coils not only allows for maximum air circulation, but it also removes the allergens and microbial growth from the coils from within the air you breathe. It's recommended that your HVAC maintenance is performed at least once a year.