Indoor air quality has become an increasingly important consideration for businesses and homeowners alike. It may be surprising to learn that the health risks that come along with poor indoor air quality are sometimes more significant than those related to outdoor air pollution.
When you think about it, so much of our time is spent in public and private indoor spaces, like our homes, offices, gyms, schools, etc. Research shows that we spend up to 90% of our time indoors. Now more than ever, people are staying inside! So, it’s important to understand the risks associated with exposure to poor indoor air quality and the ways you can improve it.
What is indoor air quality? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines it as the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Poor indoor air quality is primarily caused by poor ventilation.
Our homes and buildings are built with the general idea that they should be sealed as tightly as possible to reduce the energy needed to heat or cool them. This however means there is a potential for poor ventilation which could cause a buildup of carbon dioxide, dust, bacteria, and mold. Without being addressed, these toxins sit and grow and they have harmful effects on our health.
According to the EPA, the effects of indoor air quality can be immediate or long-term. Immediate effects include itchy eyes, sore throat, runny nose, and headaches. These symptoms are just like allergic reactions to outdoor triggers, and sometimes they resemble symptoms of the common cold. They can occur after a single exposure or after repeated exposure to poor indoor air quality, and they can provoke asthma or other respiratory conditions.
The discomfort brought on by indoor pollutants can be an everyday struggle. For some, especially higher risk individuals like the elderly, children, and people with preexisting respiratory conditions, the effects of these pollutants can lead to even more extreme health problems. The long-term effects can include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer. It is important to note that further research is needed to fully grasp the long-term effects of poor indoor air quality and that research is ongoing.
Although the environment in which we live plays a role in our indoor air quality, we actually have a good amount of control over the air we breathe every day. HVAC systems today have the ability to improve and regulate indoor air quality by providing proper ventilation, cleaning the air as it circulates, and balancing the humidity.
Opening a window may seem like the easiest way to get rid of stale air and to allow fresh air to flow into your home, but it doesn’t filter the air or block pollutants. Instead, you could consider installing a whole-home air cleaner or air purifier to be sure clean air is distributed to every room in your home. These systems remove pollutants that would normally recirculate through your home. Additionally, air purifiers can:
- Trap up to 95% of particles and then uses an electrical charge to kill or inactivate them
- Capture pollen, animal dander, smoke, bacteria
- Protect heating and cooling equipment by not producing significant pressure drop
- Hold large amounts of dust, extending time between filter changes
You can also consider adding air sterilization UV lamps to your HVAC equipment. They sterilize air as it passes through the HVAC system by killing bacteria, viruses, and molds. There are coil UV lights that shine directly on the coil where the air passes, and there are air sanitizing lights that are installed in the ductwork. Both ward off harmful pollutants and add an extra layer of air quality protection.
Allied is here to answer all of your questions about indoor air quality and to provide long-term solutions that work for you and your budget. Give us a call or visit our website to find out more information about air purifiers and other solutions we offer.