Indoor air quality is a growing concern for many people as the air inside homes and buildings can be more polluted than the air outside. Poor air quality can negatively affect health, particularly for people with allergies or respiratory issues. It’s essential to understand the various factors contributing to indoor air pollution and educate yourself on the steps you can take to improve the air quality in the home or workplace.
Importance of indoor air quality
As indoor air quality is an important factor that can significantly affect human health, productivity, and overall well-being, as well as worsen existing health conditions such as asthma, establishing a healthy home is essential.
Indoor air quality also impacts productivity in the workplace, as employees who work in environments with poor air quality are more likely to experience fatigue and decreased concentration. In addition to health and productivity, indoor air quality is essential for creating a comfortable and pleasant living environment, especially for vulnerable groups such as young children, the elderly, and people with chronic health conditions. Therefore, ensuring good indoor air quality is crucial not just for good health but also to enhance productivity, and improve the overall quality of life.
Common health problems associated with indoor air pollution
“Some of the most common health problems associated with indoor air pollution include respiratory issues such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Exposure to indoor air pollutants can also cause chronic headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, as well as eye, nose, and throat irritation. These symptoms can be caused by airborne pollutants such as radon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, mold, bacteria, and more.
Asthma and allergies are also commonly associated with indoor air pollution. These conditions can be worsened by exposure to indoor air pollutants like pet dander, pollen, and dust mites. Long-term exposure to indoor air pollution can also increase the risk of developing heart disease and other serious chronic health issues.
It is important to be aware of the potential health effects of indoor air pollution and to take steps to reduce exposure. This can include regular cleaning and ventilating indoor spaces, using high-efficiency air filters and air purifiers, and minimizing the use of harmful chemicals and products that release VOCs into the air.”
Answer provided by Rachel Gendi, Marketing Director at Filter Factory
Building materials for better indoor air quality
Building materials play a crucial role in determining indoor air quality. The type of materials used in construction, flooring, and furnishing can have a significant impact on the concentration of indoor air pollutants.
Choosing building materials that have low emissions of VOCs and other harmful pollutants can help to improve indoor air quality and create a healthier living environment. Materials such as low-VOC paints, adhesives, and sealants can reduce the levels of indoor air pollutants and create a more pleasant indoor environment. In addition, natural and sustainable materials such as bamboo, cork, and wool can replace traditional materials that may emit harmful chemicals.
Jitendra Tiwari at Civil Lead provides the following information on choosing building materials for improved indoor air quality
“When selecting building materials for improved indoor air quality, it is essential to consider the effects of different material characteristics on a building’s indoor air quality. Building materials like wood, plaster, steel, and earth play a vital role in reducing emissions and eliminating indoor air pollution.
Untreated wood is ideal for creating clean air in the home because it doesn’t retain dust, dirt, or pollution. Its moisture-controlling feature balances humidity and lowers condensation. Although purified sapwood is preferred, avoid wood treatments and finishes that emit pollutants. Certain plasterboards can reduce VOC emissions by up to 70%. When selecting accessories, products, and low-polluting materials to improve the air quality in your house, pay attention to the label. The mandatory labeling of indoor materials provides useful information on the level of pollution emissions. When working on a project, choose wood and products with an A+ rating.
It is necessary to consider the information in Environmental and Health Declaration Sheets and product labeling regarding volatile pollutant emissions. Improving indoor air quality is a public health concern, and the “trend” towards environmentally friendly building and decorating materials like wood is essential.”
How to improve indoor air quality
Since people spend nearly 90% of their time indoors, maintaining and managing home systems will help create a healthy indoor environment. Let’s look at what people can do to improve air quality indoors.
Control humidity and mold
An essential step in improving indoor air quality is controlling humidity levels. High humidity levels can lead to mold growth and other indoor air quality problems. You can use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent. This will help to prevent mold growth and reduce the risk of other indoor air quality issues. If you have concerns about mold in your home, you can have a qualified home inspector check it out.
Air purifiers and air filters
Using air purifiers and air filters is another way to enhance indoor air quality. Air purifiers and filters remove airborne particles and pollutants from the air, such as dust, pollen, pet dander, and mold spores.
Air purifiers use filters, ultraviolet light, or other methods to remove pollutants from the air. They are especially useful for people with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems, as they can help to reduce the number of airborne allergens and irritants in the indoor environment. Air filters, on the other hand, are devices that trap and remove airborne particles using a physical filter. They are commonly used in heating and cooling systems to remove pollutants from the air circulating through a building.
Using air purifiers and filters can be particularly beneficial in environments with poor ventilation or high levels of indoor air pollutants. However, it’s important to choose the right type of air purifier or filter. In addition, air purifiers and filters must be properly maintained and replaced regularly to ensure they continue to work effectively.
Be cautious with products you use in your home
Air pollution is also caused by certain chemical-based cleaning products. Using natural products reduces the amount of pollution emitted. Other air pollution can be found in tobacco products, paints, and solvents. Reducing the use of these products in your home will significantly improve air quality.
Jay Watts, vice president at AFM Safecoat provides the following advice to improve the air quality.
Maintain your HVAC system
Air pollution can come from various sources, including cleaning products, building materials, and HVAC systems. The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can play a significant role in indoor air quality, as poorly maintained HVAC systems can circulate dust, mold, and other allergens throughout the home. Whole home systems need to be regularly cleaned, so they function as efficiently as possible. This includes making sure dehumidification is on track.
When remodeling, it is paramount to select products that are as safe as possible. This includes products touted as zero VOC and, just as importantly, products that are zero HAP’s (hazardous air pollutants). HAP’s are not yet regulated, so make sure you ask your suppliers whether the products under consideration are HAP’s free.
Don’t Rush the Re-modeling
Give yourself ample time to source, and if you are allergic or chemically sensitive, test each product you plan to incorporate. This includes spending time identifying qualified contractors who understand your concerns and are open to using the products you specify. This often means getting samples to the team so they can familiarize themselves with the products, as many times you will be introducing them to ones with which they aren’t familiar. Allowing enough lead time for this reaps the rewards once the project gets underway.
Ventilating your home for air quality
In addition to reducing air pollution sources, it’s important to increase ventilation in your home or building. Ventilation systems can either be mechanical or natural. Both are effective in improving indoor air quality.
Natural ventilation relies on natural movement through open windows, doors, and other openings, while mechanical ventilation uses fans and ducts to circulate air. By increasing the flow of outdoor air into a building, ventilation helps to dilute and remove indoor air pollutants such as smoke, dust, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Adequate ventilation is especially important in enclosed spaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens, where moisture and odors can accumulate and lead to mold growth and other problems. Ensuring proper ventilation is a simple and effective way to improve indoor air quality and create a healthy living environment.
Air quality testing
Air quality testing involves collecting air samples, which are then analyzed to determine the concentration of various air pollutants, including particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Air quality testing is an important tool for protecting human health and the environment by identifying potential sources of pollution and taking steps to reduce or eliminate exposure to harmful air pollutants.
Importance of air quality testing
Air quality testing helps to identify potential health hazards associated with exposure to indoor or outdoor air pollutants. By measuring the levels of different air pollutants, air quality testing can provide valuable information about the quality of the air we breathe and help to identify sources of pollution. This information can be used to develop strategies for reducing or eliminating exposure to harmful pollutants, which can have a positive impact on human health and the environment.
For example, in workplaces or other indoor environments, air quality testing can help to identify potential hazards such as high levels of carbon monoxide, which can be emitted by malfunctioning heaters or other equipment. In homes, air quality testing can help to identify mold or other allergens that can cause respiratory problems.
Maintaining a clean home and good indoor air quality is crucial for the health and well-being of all family members. By prioritizing indoor air quality, families can create a healthy and comfortable living environment that supports physical health. With a proper inspection and all the advice mentioned above, homeowners can ensure that the air inside their homes is safe and clean for themselves and their families.
Written by: Ismirelda Forst
Author: Ismirelda Forst
Ismirelda is a content marketer at Porch. Her hobbies are writing, reading, meditating, and listening to music. Her favorite themes to write about are business and wellness. In her free time, she also likes to spend time with her friends and family.