It is wonderful to get to the beach and breathe the salty fresh air or go to the mountains and breathe in cool pine scented air, but in our homes, we don’t have that opportunity. You may live in a city where the air is not so fresh or, more often, it is too hot or cold to spend as much time outside as you would like. Indoor air quality is important.
According to an EPA estimate, people spend 90% of their time indoors. This statistic coupled with the fact that indoor air can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than outside air makes indoor air quality a concern. Poor air quality negatively affects all of us (especially those with allergies and asthma) and it has also been linked to lung cancer, heart disease and strokes.
Types of Indoor Air Pollutants
- Radon – a highly radioactive gas that can come up from the ground, well water and building materials; linked to lung cancer
- Biological sources – mold, mildew, dust mites, cockroaches; irritate eyes, nose, throat, and lungs
- Organic gases or volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) – gases from paint, cleaning supplies, pesticides, glue, printers, permanent markers and some building materials; side effects can range from eye irritation to nausea to more serious problems, like cancer
- Respirable particles – cigarette smoke, second-hand smoke, smoke from fireplaces, kerosene heaters, wood stoves; higher risk of lung cancer and other lung diseases, heart disease, irritation of lungs, eyes, nose and throat; it can exacerbate allergies and asthma
How can I improve my indoor air quality?
Some pollutants are easier to reduce than others. Fairly inexpensive radon testing kits can tell you if you have a radon problem. Radon must be vented outdoors.
Biological sources can be controlled by keeping a clean house and controlling the humidity through your HVAC system or by using a dehumidifier.
The best control for VOCs is to minimize the indoor use of paint and pesticides. Substitute “green” cleaning supplies for toxic ones.
Your best defense against respirable particles is your home air filtration system. Having your HVAC system professionally checked twice a year will ensure it is working as efficiently as possible. In addition, you may want to inquire about the type of filter that is best suited for your HVAC system.
A media filter is typically 4 to 5 inches thick versus the typical 1 inch thickness on a standard filter. A media filter is also placed firmly inside the system, so all air must pass through it. The enhanced thickness allows for more surface area to trap pollutants. Media filters typically need to be replaced once every three months.
Give us a call today at (757) 930-0000 for other ideas on how to improve your indoor air quality!