Did you know that, on average, Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors? Inside the typical home or building, the concentration of certain types of pollutants is two to five times higher than outside. On top of that, people who are the most vulnerable to the negative effects of indoor air pollution tend to spend more time indoors than the average person.
These include older adults, very young children, and people with respiratory or cardiovascular disease.
Some individuals might have flair-ups of allergies or asthma when in an area that has indoor air pollutants, while others might not have any symptoms at all. However, indoor air quality can also lead to negative health effects in the long term, even when a person didn't experience symptoms immediately.
Are you wondering what you need to know about the importance of healthy indoor air quality? Let's take a look.
Indoor Air Quality and Your Health
While some people might be immediately bothered by air pollutants indoors, others might not have symptoms right away. While the short-term effects of poor indoor air quality might not cause long-lasting health issues, repeated exposure to concentrated pollution can potentially lead to more chronic and life-threatening diseases in the long run.
Some people might experience negative health effects right away after being exposed to a pollutant. This can include issues such as:
- Irritation of the nose, eyes, and throat
Effects that occur immediately after exposure are usually treatable and short-term. It might just mean eliminating an individual's exposure to the pollution source if you know what it is. Symptoms of conditions like asthma can be aggravated, worsen, or show up for the first time after exposure to certain indoor pollutants.
Some factors increase the likelihood of having an immediate reaction to indoor air pollutants. These include preexisting medical conditions as well as a person's age.
Some people might be more sensitive to others than pollutants. High level or repeated exposure can also make people more sensitized to chemical or biological pollutants.
Some of the effects experienced immediately after exposure are similar to those from viral diseases such as colds. For this reason, it can be hard to determine whether or not someone is experiencing symptoms from air pollution exposure. Therefore, it is important to stay conscious of both the place and time that an individual is experiencing symptoms.
For example, a person might have symptoms go away when they are no longer in a certain area. You can then try and determine pollutants in that area to figure out the cause. If there is not an adequate amount of outdoor air flowing indoors, symptoms can be made worse.
A person might also experience long-term effects from exposure to indoor air pollutants. These can include heart disease and cancer, respiratory diseases, and other conditions. These can be both seriously debilitating and fatal.
This means that even if symptoms aren't noticeable now, it's still a good idea to stay on top of having healthy indoor air quality.
Researchers aren't certain about how long exposure has to happen or what concentration of pollutants is in order to produce these negative health outcomes. Everyone is different, and one person might have no issue with certain air quality while someone else might react very negatively to it.
At this point, there is a need for more research about the long-term effects of exposure to indoor air pollutants.
Main Causes of Indoor Air Issues
Sources that release particles or gases into the air indoors are the main cause of problems with indoor air quality. These problems can be made worse by inadequate ventilation, as outdoor air can help to dilute emissions from polluting indoor sources. Ventilation can also help remove the indoor air pollutants from the indoor air.
Some pollutants can also increase in concentration from high humidity and temperature levels.
There are a lot of different sources of indoor air pollution. These can include:
- Excess moisture
- Fuel-burning combustion appliances
- Central heating and cooling systems
- Humidification devices
- Tobacco products
- Outdoor sources such as pesticides, outdoor air pollution, and radon
- Household cleaning and maintenance products
- Products for hobbies or personal care
- Building materials and furnishings
Building materials and furnishings can emit gases and particles that are harmful to health. This can come from a diverse array of sources, including newly installed carpet, upholstery, flooring, or deteriorated insulation containing asbestos.
The Need For Adequate Ventilation
If there isn't enough air entering your indoor environment from outside, pollutants can end up accumulating and concentrating. This means these pollutants can reach levels that pose both comfort and health problems.
Outdoor air can enter buildings in many different ways. These include:
- Natural ventilation
- Mechanical ventilation
Natural ventilation is when air moves through open doors and windows. Infiltration is when outdoor air enters a building through cracks, openings, and joints around windows and doors as well as in floors, walls, and ceilings. Mechanical ventilation can occur using a number of different devices, including air handling systems and outdoor-vented fans.
What You Can Do to Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are several different things you can do to improve air quality in your home. This can help keep you and your family healthy in both the short and the long term.
Keep Your Home Clean
One of the easiest things you can do for better indoor air quality is to keep it clean. This is because it can help to reduce animal danger and dust building up in your home. You'll want to focus your cleaning strategy on reducing mold, dust, and pet dander, which you can do by:
- Regularly cleaning your drapes, bedding, and other objects that typically attract allergens.
- Consider using a pillow, mattress, and box spring covers that are dust-mite proof.
- Vacuum area rugs and carpets at least once or twice a week using a cleaner that is equipped with a HEPA filter
- Consider choosing hard-surface flooring rather than wall-to-wall carpeting
- Keep your home clutter-free to help reduce areas where dust can get trapped
Improving indoor air quality is only one of the benefits of keeping your house clean. It can also help lower stress and fatigue and keep your home safer when it comes to the risk of falls and fire hazards. It also means that germs are less able to spread throughout your home.
Pay Attention to Indoor Plants
Some people believe that plants can help to improve indoor quality, which might very well be true. That being said, plants can also collect and foster mold growth. For this reason, you'll want to tend to your plants regularly to ensure that they aren't doing more harm than good when it comes to indoor air quality.
Change Your Air Filters
If your home has a forced-air heating system, it's important that you change the filters regularly. This helps to make sure that airborne irritants such as dust don't get recirculated through your home. It's also might be a good idea to have your ducts cleaned.
Purchase an Air Purifier
If you aren't able to control the problem's source, an indoor air purifier can help. You'll want to purchase them for the most commonly used parts of your house so they can capture some of the airborne pollutants that are causing you trouble.
You can also invest in an iWave whole-house air purifier to ensure that every room in your house has better indoor air quality.
Consider a Dehumidifier in Damp Areas
If areas of your home are damp, such as your basement, a dehumidifier can help by preventing mold growth. You'll also want to make sure that bathrooms are well ventilated and that any visible mold that collects is scrubbed off.
Open Your Windows Occasionally
It's good to open your windows occasionally to ventilate your home. This is true even during the cold winter months. You can also use fans in your kitchen to help remove cooking fumes and move potential air contaminants out.
Is It Time For You to Improve the Indoor Air Quality of Your Home?
As you can see, paying attention to indoor air quality is important for both your short-term and long-term health. Learning about the different potential sources of indoor air pollution can empower you to create a healthier home for you and your family. Implementing some of the tips listed here can mean that your family is more comfortable and healthier today and in the years to come.
If you are interested in installing a whole-house air purifier in your home, you can request a quote today!
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