Everybody knows that the air outdoors is polluted, but did you know that the air indoors can be just as contaminated? We all spend a lot of time indoors, so the air quality of our indoor spaces must be monitored. Lots of people spend a lot of their day breathing in stale, unclean, or even toxic air, which can make you sluggish and lead to health problems. How much pollution is in your home? Why is the home air quality so important?
Why should I check the air quality in my home?
Keeping the quality of the air of your home high is essential for keeping your home healthy and comfortable for your family. According to www.sedonawaterproofing.com, if the home air quality is poor, it can lead to a condition called ‘Sick Building Syndrome’. This syndrome can lead to symptoms, including a lack of ability to concentrate, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and breathing difficulties. These problems are unpleasant for anyone but can be very dangerous for those with existing medical conditions like asthma.
Some of these health problems can show up almost immediately, after only a brief exposure to poor quality air. After one exposure, you can suffer from irritated eyes, nose or throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. These effects usually don’t last very long, and will often disappear as soon as you leave the area. Older people and those with pre-existing medical positions are more likely to experience an immediate reaction.
These immediate symptoms can easily be mistaken for a cold, so it can be difficult to tell whether you’re ill or are suffering from the effects of poor air quality or mold. An easy way to tell the difference is to keep a note of where you are when these symptoms begin. If these symptoms only occur when you are in the house, then it’s likely the problem is the air quality in the home, not a cold.
Some health effects will only show up after repeated or prolonged exposure to poor quality air. This can be problems like respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer. Some pollutants in the air can cause serious health problems that won’t present symptoms for a while.
Some people are more likely to be struggling with poor home air quality than others. According to studies, low air quality caused by things like asthma triggers, second-hand smoke, mold, radon, and other pollutants disproportionately affects a few groups of people, including:
- The elderly
- Low-income people
- Tribes and indigenous people
These groups are most affected due to being sensitive to pollutants in the case of children and the elderly, or by more prolonged exposure. Those on low-incomes are more likely to live and work in environments with inadequate ventilation and higher exposure levels to pollutants released from work chemicals, cheap cleaning products, and other contaminants.
What causes poor air quality indoors?
Several different things can cause poor home air quality. Over-crowded homes and homes that are poorly ventilated and have contaminants from items like building materials, organic compounds, particulate matter, and radon call all contribute to poor home air quality.
Indoors, several culprits commonly release pollutants into the home. These include:
- Appliances that burn fuel
- Building materials, such as deteriorating asbestos
- Furnishings, such as newly installed carpets
- Household cleaning products
- Excess moisture
- Outdoor sources such as pesticides or air pollution
These sources can release different amounts of pollutants, and some are more dangerous than others. Factors like the age of the source and whether it has been properly maintained are also crucial for identifying how immediately dangerous the problem is. For example, a gas stove that hasn’t been properly fitted can release a lot of carbon monoxide. This is clearly far more dangerous than a properly installed oven.
Building materials, furnishings, and products like air fresheners can also release pollutants into the air pretty much continuously. Most things that release pollutants are only occasional, like smoking, cleaning, or decorating. Unvented or malfunctioning appliances can also be a big problem and can release dangerous levels of pollution indoors in your home.
Inadequate ventilation can also be a big problem. If you’re not getting enough air from outdoors into the house, then pollutants in the air can gather to a level that will cause issues for comfort and health. Buildings without any mechanical means of ventilation that are designed to minimize the levels of outdoor air that can get in and out may have higher levels of indoor pollution.
Outdoor air can get into and leave a building via infiltration, natural ventilation, and mechanical ventilation. With penetration, outdoor air will enter the building through openings such as gaps in joints, cracks in the walls and floors, and around windows and doors. With natural ventilation, the air is allowed to move through windows and doors that have been left open. Air movement from infiltration or natural ventilation is caused by a difference in air temperature between the outdoors and indoors, and by the wind.
Both mechanical ventilation devices, like outdoor-vented fans that remove air from one room when switched on, and continuous air handling systems that use fans or ducts work to remove indoor air and distribute outdoor around the home. The rate at which the indoor air is replaced by outdoor air is called the air exchange rate. If your home doesn’t have much infiltration, whether natural or mechanical, the air exchange rate will be low which means that pollutant levels can increase.
Poor air quality can cause a lot of health problems, so it is very important to do what you can in your home to limit the levels of pollutants and improve air quality. Make sure any gas appliances are fitted correctly and regularly inspected for safety. Properly ventilate your home when cleaning, decorating, or taking part in any hobby that involves potential pollutants, such as using strong-smelling paints. Make sure your home is adequately ventilated, whether through a mechanical system, infiltration, natural ventilation, or a combination of all three. With proper ventilation, you’ll get better air quality, which is better for your health and comfort.