IAQ stands for indoor air quality, and it is an important factor in the health of your home. This is a rating of how pure the air is inside your home and other buildings.
Air quality is directly related to the health and comfort of the people who spend time in that place.
Common indoor pollutants include mold, pollen, smoke (from cooking or tobacco products), cleaning products, pesticides, radon, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Because air inside homes and workplaces is often recycled through the HVAC system, these pollutants remain inside, and all the while, more are being added. Filtration systems help improve IAQ, but there are more ways to get cleaner indoor air.
Pure Maintenance of St. Louis these strategies below, along with an explanation of how poor air quality affects you home and family.
How Air Quality Impacts a Home
You and your family spend more time at home than anywhere else, so the air quality of your home is extremely important.
If someone in your home has an allergy — mold, for example — it’s obvious that mold in the air would make them sick. But other air pollutants can be just as irritating as an actual allergen.
IAQ Short-Term Impact
Some people are more sensitive to air quality conditions and will have immediate reactions, while others do not. A person’s age and pre-existing medical conditions are factors that can lead to more sensitivity to IAQ.
Similar symptoms of common cold and other viruses
It can be hard to tell if your symptoms are a result of poor air quality or something else. Pay attention to where and when your symptoms are occurring. If they seem to get better or worse in a certain area (like home), your symptoms may be related to air quality.
Fortunately, short-term symptoms of low air quality usually go away on their own, or they are treatable with over-the-counter medications.
Unfortunately, poor air quality can exacerbate symptoms of asthma or actually bring about a first asthma episode.
IAQ Long-Term Impacted
There is not sufficient research to determine which pollutants play a bigger role in causing chronic diseases. Another big factor is the individual being exposed to poor IAQ. One chemical may affect one individual, while another may be more harmful to a different person. These individual reactions make the study of IAQ and its long-term effect on health very complex.
How to Improve IAQ
Poor ventilation is the main cause of low air quality.
Some air pollutants are produced inside your home, like cooking odors, tobacco smoke and pet dander.
Indoor air also takes on pollutants from outside. There is no way to prevent this. It happens when you open the door or windows to your home, or when particles enter your home on your clothing, shoes or pets.
You cannot prevent pollutants from coming inside or being produced within your home, but you can take measures to improve the air quality in your home.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Change the filters in your home – A filter’s purpose is to collect pollutants so you don’t end up breathing them. A clogged filter cannot do this job adequately. The HVAC filter is an obvious one, but there are many other devices in your home that have filters, including appliances, vacuums and even aquariums.
- Clean the air ducts – The inside of air ducts are rarely seen by homeowners. They are hard to reach and even harder to clean, which creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew. Not to mention that all of the dirty air from your home passes through these ducts, so a wide variety of pollutants can get stuck in the vents. Have an HVAC professional clean your ducts periodically.
- Use your stove and bathroom vents – Food odors are actually tiny particles in the air. Gas and electric stoves also release particulates while in use. And the bathroom has its own moisture and odor problems. Fortunately, the use of exhaust fans is very effective in removing odors and excess moisture from both of these areas, as long as you use them consistently.
- Clean carpets, rugs, and upholstery frequently – Don’t overlook the soft surfaces in your home. Carpet and upholstery capture particles and release them back into the air. The good news is that if you are cleaning these items frequently, you are removing those particles before they are re-released. Your home will smell fresher as well.
- Control humidity in your home – Excess humidity is the main cause of mold and mildew in a home. During hot, humid parts of the year, use your thermostat to keep indoor temperatures down in order to eliminate humidity. You can also place dehumidifiers throughout your home to lower household humidity, making your home less susceptible to mold and mildew — and generally more comfortable for your family.
- Add indoor plants – Plants naturally freshen indoor air by filtering out toxins and CO2 while replenishing the oxygen supply. Be careful, though, because overwatering can lead to mold.
Scheduling Mold Testing
Doing all of the things above will keep the air inside your home cleaner and fresher. This benefits your family’s health and makes your home more comfortable and fragrant. Attaining better air quality for your family takes a little work, but maintaining it is just a matter of upkeep.
Professional mold testing is another thing you can do to ensure the IAQ of your home is acceptable. A mold test is simple and quick, and you’ll know if the air inside your home is safe or if there are high levels of mold leading to low IAQ.
For most homeowners, scheduling a mold test is the first step in the eye-opening process of gaining better air quality.