Air quality inside your home is often much worse than the air pollution issues that exist within outdoor air, yet most people don’t know this. Because of consistent exposure, indoor air pollutants can have a big impact on our health and comfort. Pollutants like dust, dust mites, pet dander, radon, mold, smoke, carbon monoxide gas, chemicals, cleaners, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other common allergens make allergy asthma symptoms occur more frequently and contribute to other health problems.
Learn to improve indoor air quality and reduce indoor air pollution with help from Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. Our team of air quality professionals explains the effects of poor air quality, the pollutants you need to be mindful of within the air in your home, and how to improve indoor air for your loved ones.
How Indoor Air Pollution and Air Quality Affects Us
The Environmental Protection Agency states the indoor air is usually around 2 to 5 times more polluted than the outdoor air supply. Pollutant particles become highly concentrated inside your home for various reasons, namely:
- Outdoor air pollutants aren’t high in concentration due to wind, weather, and air movement that occurs freely in the open space. In a house, air movement is limited, largely due to a lack of ventilation. Natural ventilation is virtually eliminated from the modern home in the name of energy efficiency, and it just isn’t practical to leave open windows around the house at all times. As a result, air inside a home stays stagnant and pollution collects.
- The closed home environment collects humidity and heat, two factors that can worsen indoor air pollution issues. High humidity levels can cause mold growth and help particles linger in the air and well as encourage the off-gassing of chemical toxins in household products.
- Ultraviolet energy from the Sun treats pathogens that float in the outdoor air, like mold. Indoor air doesn’t receive this natural benefit, so these pollutants are able to reproduce and spread in this closed environment.
The Air Quality Impact on Health
High pollutant concentrations are only one element of the poor air quality problem we experience indoors. Coupled with the fact most Americans spend around 90 percent of their days indoors, this results in extensive exposure to the pollution that exists within an indoor air supply. This heavy exposure is known to cause health problems. Those who suffer from allergies or asthma experience more exposure to their triggers, leading to increased symptoms.
When you are exposed to poor air quality and heavy indoor air pollution at home, the health consequences can range from mild to severe. Some people report feeling symptoms similar to allergies or a cold when exposed to environments with poor air quality, including:
- Irritations of the Nose, Throat, and Eyes
Other pollutants that can exist inside a home are more dangerous and are known to cause more serious health conditions. Radon gas is natural and can enter homes, which is known to cause lung cancer due to exposure. Exposure to toxic molds inside can cause respiratory conditions. Exposure to carbon monoxide gas even over a short period can be deadly.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants
Many different pollutants can linger within a home’s indoor air. Some occur in nature, others we bring into the home, and even more originate due to products we use and activities we perform indoors. Common indoor contaminants include:
- Pet Hair and Pet Dander From Indoor Animals
- Secondhand Tobacco Smoke Due to Smoking Inside the Home
- Dust and Dust Mites
- Wood Smoke From Fireplaces and Wood Stoves
- Chemicals in Cleaning Products, Air Fresheners, and Other Commonly Used Products
- Mold Spores That Come From Outdoors or Growth Within the Home
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in Furniture, Building Products, and Other Frequently Used Items
- Legionella Bacteria Growing in Water Heating Systems, Faucets, and Showerheads
- Carbon Monoxide From Incomplete Combustion and/or Faulty Venting of Gas Appliances and Heating Equipment
- Radon That Occurs Underground and Enters the Home Through Foundation Cracks
- Pesticides Used to Treat Insect Problems Inside and Outside
- Lead On Painted Surfaces and Antique Items
Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality at Home
There is no one single action or solution that will allow you to improve indoor air quality in your home. Instead, it’s better to approach your air quality issues from multiple sides. The most important factors you need to address when you work to improve air quality at home are source control and better ventilation.
Limit Pollutant Sources
- Clean surfaces in the house from top to bottom, from ceiling fans to floorboards. Use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter to capture more pollutant particles and remove them from the indoor environment.
- Wash linens, blankets, curtains, and other fabrics weekly to eliminate allergens. Wash using hot water no cooler than 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This controls air pollution by eliminating dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens.
- Keep pillows and mattresses covered using allergen barrier products. Replace pillows every 2 years and replace mattresses every decade.
- Shut windows when the outdoor air pollution or pollen count levels are high to prevent new pollutants from making their way into the home.
- Do away with clutter around the house as it collects dust and allergen particles.
- Have your air conditioning and heating systems professionally maintained each year to ensure proper operation, safe venting of exhaust gases, and equipment free of mold growth.
- Fireplace chimneys should also be serviced annually, including cleaning and inspection for safe venting.
- Replace HVAC system air filters on a regular basis.
- Trade out chemicals and toxic cleaners for natural alternatives. Replace chemical air fresheners, candles, perfumes, and other personal products with non-toxic substances.
- Do not allow anyone to smoke inside your home.
- Fix leaks from plumbing fixtures, pipes, and appliances as soon as possible. Fixing leaks prevents additional humidity in the indoor environment and controls conditions for mold development in the home.
- Care for house plants by using sterile soil, only watering when dry, and trimming dead growth to avoid mold and moisture air pollution issues. House plants do not provide a noticeable improvement in indoor air quality as some sources may claim. When neglected, plants can actually add to a household’s poor air quality.
- Treat pest infestations with natural alternatives, physical traps, and other non-toxic solutions that address your issue without adding pollution to your home.
- Only buy low VOCs products for your home. Allow items to off-gas outside for several days before you take them in and only use them in well-ventilated areas of the house.
Improve Household Ventilation
- Seal duct leaks to close paths that allow new particles to enter your air supply.
- Open windows when the weather and conditions allow to bring fresh air into the home through natural ventilation.
- Set a fan to blow out open windows, pushing stale air from the home out into the outdoor air.
- Set portable fans to blow away from people which prevents blowing allergens and pollutants into their direct area.
- Run attic fans or whole house fans periodically if available.
- Operate exhaust fans while cooking and bathing to expel humidity and smells from the kitchen and bathroom.
- Check all supply and return vents around your house. See to it that they are open and unobstructed for proper airflow.
Top Indoor Air Quality Products for Homes
When source control and ventilation improvement just doesn’t cut it alone, invest in an air quality system that works with HVAC equipment to tackle indoor air pollution across the whole home. An air purifier, air cleaner, or dehumidifier removes excess particles and limits humidity to create more comfortable, healthier indoor air for your loved ones.
- Air cleaners have superior air filters that are able to trap high amounts of even the smallest contaminant particles. Air circulating through the HVAC system will pass through the air cleaner and the filter will remove pollution.
- Air purifiers provide sanitation that neutralizes harmful particles within indoor air. An air purifier neutralizes pathogen cells, preventing them from reproducing, spreading, and going on to infect others in your home. Air purifiers use different technologies to clean the air, including ultraviolet light and ionization.
- Dehumidifiers control humidity within the indoor air, removing moisture when humidity indoors is too high. Air passing through the HVAC system first enters the whole home dehumidifier where it is chilled. Dropping air temperature causes moisture to condense, leaving air drier.
Indoor Air Quality Help in Louisville
When you want to improve indoor air quality for your Louisville area home, it helps to have a knowledgeable expert on your side. Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing helps area homeowners control air pollution and end health problems caused by poor air quality. Contact our team today to learn more about indoor air quality products and invest in an air quality solution that will meet your family’s needs. Request an appointment for an installation estimate today!