Although many people associate pollution and poor air quality with the outdoors, is air quality better indoors? The answer is it depends. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) plays an important role in your general health and well-being, as well as the comfort of your home. Research has suggested that the air inside buildings might be more contaminated than outdoor air. Having clean air circulating throughout your home can reduce allergy symptoms, prevent viruses, kill bacteria, and help you breathe easier on a daily basis.
Since you most likely spend more time indoors than outdoors, the quality of the air in buildings, such as your home, should be something you consider. The good news about indoor air quality is that you have more control over it than you do with the outdoor air quality. While you might not have the means to go around and eliminate all of the sources of indoor air pollution, you can make a few changes to your home to improve the quality of the air you breathe.
Indoor air quality is the quality of the air inside of a building, such as your home, your office or a retail establishment. Indoor air quality is different from outdoor air quality as well as from air quality in an industrial setting, such as a factory or power plant.
Multiple factors can affect the quality of the air inside your home:
The quality of the air inside of your home where you spend a lot of time can have a considerable impact on your health. Often, the health issues that result from poor indoor air quality are called “sick building syndrome” (SBS). The signs of SBS usually clear up once a person leaves the building.
A variety of factors influence the overall air quality inside of a building. Some of the causes of poor indoor air quality include:
If the heating or cooling system in a building is not maintained or is not functioning correctly, it might cause dusty air to circulate through the home or building. A building or house that does not have working windows or that does not get a supply of “fresh air” regularly is also likely to have poor indoor air quality.
The materials you are likely to find in a building, such as a carpet on the floor or the paint on the walls, consistently release pollutants or volatile organic compounds.
Some cleaning products create fumes or contain fragrances that can lower the indoor air quality of a building. Certain activities, such as burning incense or smoking cigarettes indoors can also lower the quality of the air by introducing particulates into the air.
If a building is near a source of outdoor pollution, such as a smokestack, there is the chance that contaminants and particulates from that source can make their way into the building.
If you live with animal companions, their dander and fur can affect the quality of the air in your home. Pet dander can be a particular concern if you have allergies. Additionally, if you have uninvited animal guests in your house, such as mice or cockroaches, their droppings also contribute to reduced indoor air quality.
If the air inside of your home is damp or humid, there is an increased risk of mold growth, which can affect the quality of the air. A humid home can also be a hospitable environment for bacterial growth.
The types of pollutants that affect indoor air quality can vary based on what’s inside of a home or building and what can get inside of a structure. Although there is a long list of pollutants that can impact the quality of the air inside your home, if you do have poor indoor air quality, it is likely that one or more of the following is to blame.
There are a few ways to tell if the air inside your home is unhealthy. The first thing to do is to pay attention to any signs or symptoms that the indoor air quality is poor. If you notice dizziness, sneezing and other health effects when you are at home, and these symptoms seem to clear up when you leave, that can be a sign that your indoor air is unhealthy.
Another way to determine if the air in your home is unhealthy is to examine and evaluate what you and other members of your family do inside. If people smoke indoors, regularly spray pesticides or air fresheners, or frequently work on craft projects with paint, those activities can affect your home’s air quality.
Damp areas, condensation on the windows and visible mold growth are also signs that something is amiss. A musty or otherwise unpleasant odor in your home can suggest that humidity levels are too high. It is possible to measure the level of some gases and VOCs inside the home. For example, a carbon monoxide detector will alert you if CO levels creep up.
Improving indoor air quality in your home often involves three steps. The goal is to limit the pollutants indoors so that everyone who comes into your house can breathe more easily.
The first step to improving indoor air quality is to limit the number of pollutants that get into your home. There are multiple ways you can restrict or control the source of pollution indoors.
Although reducing the number of pollutants that make it into your home is the first line of defense when it comes to improving indoor air quality, it is not the only thing you can do. Improving your home's ventilation or air circulation also helps. In the bathroom or kitchen, you can improve air circulation and lower humidity levels by running an exhaust fan. Running a fan in your bathroom while you shower will help to reduce mold growth. In the kitchen, an exhaust fan will help to direct any particulates out of the house. The simplest way to improve the ventilation of your house is to open up the windows or doors on a beautiful day. Opening the windows on all sides of the house can create a gentle breeze or current, helping the air flow through your home.
The third thing you can do to improve the air quality indoors is to clean the air. Air cleaners work by filtering dust and other particles from the air, and they are meant to be a complement to other methods of improving indoor air quality, such as reducing the source of pollution and improving ventilation. Along with installing an air purification system in your home, improving the ability of your heating system to filter the air can also help to improve indoor air quality. Installing a dehumidifier or otherwise controlling your home's humidity levels can also lead to an improvement in your home's indoor air quality.
There are three basic types of Indoor Air Quality control. Each type can be taken care of with different types of IAQ products that can be easily added to your existing HVAC system.
In the summer there is usually too much humidity in your home and in the winter there is not enough. This can cause many comfort issues and can even damage a home. We use humidifiers to add humidity in the winter, and we use dehumidifiers and air conditioners to remove humidity in the summer.
We offer several IAQ product options to help improve the quality of the air in your home. All of our products can easily be added to your existing heating and cooling system or in your home. To help you determine which product would best solve the air quality problems in your home, schedule a free in-home energy consultation with one of our expert energy consultants.
If you are concerned about the air quality inside your home in Southern Maryland, SMO Energy can help. We sell a variety of indoor air cleaning systems to help keep your home’s air as healthy for your family as possible. Call us at 888-222-3720 or get in touch with us online to find out what options we have available. We’ll help you select the best air purification system for your home.
We also offer service agreements that include an annual tune-up, which can help you ensure your heating system is not contributing to indoor pollution. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.