We spend roughly 90% of our time inside. Although indoor air quality is not the most entertaining discussion over the holidays, it is pretty important to protect your health.
Healthy air means healthy minds and bodies.
For example, poor air quality affects some of the everyday aches, pains and irritations. Some symptoms of poor indoor air quality, include:
- eye irritation.
- nose irritation.
- throat irritation.
- lung irritation.
Yes, poor air quality affects everyone. However, children and the elderly particularly suffer from breathing contaminated air. For example, the amount of children and young adults suffering from severe allergies and asthma continue to increase every year. Although, poor indoor air quality may not directly cause these health issues, it is likely air quality remains a contributing factor.
In addition, recent data suggest that poor air quality may directly reduce a person’s ability to perform specific mental tasks requiring concentration, calculation, or memory. Some studies have shown that at least half of all illnesses originate from poor indoor air quality.
Indoor Air Quality Concerns On the Rise
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranked indoor air pollution among the top 5 environmental dangers! One underlying reason that poor air quality is on the rise is new construction.
New technology and energy awareness means homes are built tighter. This is great for reduced energy costs. However, tightly built homes reduce ventilation and trap indoor air pollutants inside the home. As a result, we inhale 15,000+ quarts of air per day (on average) from everyday sources under normal weather conditions:
“Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.”
Watch Out for Air Pollutants
As we settle into winter, we know we’ll be spending even more time inside. So, what can we do to improve our indoor air quality? Watch out for dangerous air pollutants.
For example, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States. The CDC estimates CO poisoning causes approximately 400 deaths and over 20,000 emergency room visits per year. However, most CO poisonings go unreported because they are misdiagnosed as a flu or the common cold because the symptoms (headaches, nausea, and fatigue)are very similar.
Additionally, mold becomes a pollutant when accumulated growth goes unnoticed or ignored. In particular, watch out for water-damaged materials and surfaces, including air borne mold spores from your crawl space. Repeated exposure to mold can cause:
- allergic reactions.
Dust mites feed on organic detritus, such as flakes of shed human skin, and flourish in the stable environment of dwellings. House dust mites remain barely visible to the eye because they are incredibly small and have translucent bodies. However, mites are a common cause of asthma, wheezing and allergic symptoms worldwide.
Dust mites create a huge problem. For example, a female house dust mite lives up to 70 days, laying 60 to 100 eggs in the last 5 weeks of her life. In a 10-week life span, a house dust mite produces approximately 2,000 fecal particles. Plus, an even larger number of partially digested enzyme-covered dust particles.
Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
Although the symptoms of poor air quality may not be present, take some steps now to keep it that way. From 5 minute projects to some professional upgrades, there are a handful of ways to improve your indoor air quality.
- Change the air filter. For the best results, then change your air filter every 1-3 months for indoor air quality improvements.
- Clean air ducts and vents. Simply dusting ductwork grills and vents helps prevent debris from entering the ductwork system.
- Remove toxic products. Many of the household products used to clean our homes include toxic ingredients.
- Clean the floors. Routine vacuuming helps minimize dust and other allergens from the home and improves the quality of air.
- Add a houseplant. When selecting a houseplant, be careful to check the list of NASA approved plants that help remove toxins.
- Improve ventilation. During moderate days, open windows (or doors) for a few minutes each day, which recycles stale air with fresh air.
Additionally, if you are very concerned about home ventilation, then consider contacting a professional to install trickle vents. These vents allow fresh air to trickle into the home and polluted air to trickle out of the home.
Why does air quality matter so much?
Studies have shown on average that the indoor air we breathe is up to 5 times worse than the air outside. In some cases, the indoor air quality may be up to 100 times worst. For more information and greater details, than the US Consumer Product Safety Commision published The Guide to Indoor Air Quality.
At SolvIt, we spend our time helping our communities improve the quality of their homes. To help increase air quality awareness, contact SolvIt today.