Common Misconceptions about Indoor Air Quality
With more and more people becoming aware about their health, it is often surprising that there are still many misconceptions that are held regarding their indoor air quality. Because the majority of people spend anywhere between 80 to 90 percent of their time indoors, having an understanding of how indoor air pollutants accumulate and what they can do for a person’s health is incredibly important.
Only Our Outdoor Air is Polluted
One of the main reasons that many believe that indoor air pollution does not exist is because it usually isn’t visible. However, many products and materials that we use or are surrounded by release VOCs and other pollutants. These products and materials can include but are not limited to:
- Cleaning Products
- Carpeting, Padding and Adhesives
- Wall Paint
Part of the reason that indoor air quality should be a major concern is that the pollutants can accumulate. Because modern buildings are designed to be energy efficient, there often is no way for the pollutants to dissipate. Most Americans spend anywhere between 80 to 90 percent of their time indoors, breathing in these contaminants every single day.
If I Don’t Feel It or Smell It, It’s Not Hurting Me
Allergens and contaminants affect everyone differently. Some suffer severe flu-like symptoms, experience shortness of breath and even headaches. Others may experience fatigue, dizziness and dryness. Even if you don’t necessarily feel ill, it is a fact that people die prematurely due to complications that are associated with poor indoor air quality, which include pneumonia, lung cancer, COPD and even stroke. Every year, it is estimated by the World Health Organization that 4.3 million die from poor indoor air quality worldwide.
If you are not particularly sensitive to pollutants and contaminants, there are some other warning signs that could potentially indicate that there may be a problem. For example, if you spot mold in your home, if the air smells stuffy or old or if the air does not appear to be circulating properly. Additionally, if there is an odor that does not seem to go away or if you notice dirt collecting around your HVAC system, you may wish to have your indoor air tested.
Improving Indoor Air Quality is Too Expensive
Many believe that having a home that has healthy indoor air requires expensive upgrades or devices. However, that’s just not the case. If your home has poor indoor air quality, any changes that are made can improve the quality. In many cases, you can:
- Minimize chemical pollutants: By moving activities that release pollutants, such as smoking, painting or even gluing, to the outdoors or increasing ventilation, the levels of pollutants indoors should remain low. You can also reduce the amount of high-fragrance cleaners and paints that you use.
- Keep dirt and dust to a minimum: If you have pets, pet dander, dirt and other allergens or pollutants are probably prevalent. Routinely washing bedding, vacuuming carpets and cleaning the areas where pets hang out the most can help reduce pollutant levels.
- Control the moisture at home: Moisture is needed for bacteria, molds and other organic pollutants to survive. While some moisture is needed for comfort, reducing the amount of moisture can keep the air both cleaner and safer for inhabitants.
- Ensure the home has proper ventilation: Ventilation allows the polluted air to exit the home so that clean air can replace it.
- Have HVAC equipment installed to help control indoor air quality.