October Is National Indoor Air Quality Month
October is the month for bringing awareness to Indoor Air Quality. In our society, we place great emphasis on finding ways to reduce outdoor pollution, and rightfully so. Collectively, it is our duty to protect the environment and the air we breathe as it has direct impacts on our health. Outdoor Environmental is important, but we also should pay special attention to Indoor Environmental, also known as Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality is the phrase used to describe how healthy the breathing air is within a building. The quality of the air we breathe indoors directly impacts our level of comfort, ability to function in that environment, and most importantly, our long-term physical health. Assessing the IAQ of a building brings focus and attention to various indoor air pollutants, such as mold, asbestos, lead, radon, ozone & pesticide pollutants, etc. Temperature, relative humidity, and proper ventilation are also key contributors to a building’s Indoor Air Quality and should also be taken into consideration as well.
What makes IAQ so important?
Studies show on average that people spend more time indoors than we do outdoors. Between 1992 and 1994, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sponsored a study called the National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS). The University of Maryland’s Research Center performed this survey over a wide geographic area to draw exposure data. The results of this study indicate that people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. With this level of exposure, it’s evident how critical it is to maintain healthy Indoor Air Quality in your home.
In recent years, the building of more energy-efficient homes has also contributed to more complexities with maintaining healthy Indoor Air Quality. Buildings are being constructed with tighter Thermal Envelopes, which directly impacts a building’s air infiltration rate. Without proper Building Science principles applied, homes and buildings can be constructed with insufficient ventilation and therefore cause higher exposure of accumulating air pollutants.
What You Can Do To Improve Indoor Air Quality
Vacuuming reduces exposure to dust, mites, pet dander, and other allergens held in your carpet or on the surface of the flooring.
Replace HVAC Air Filters
It is a good practice to replace the air filters of your HVAC system at least 2 times per year to keep the system clean and running efficiently.
Clean Surfaces Regularly
Cleaning surfaces weekly, and even daily, is a great way to prevent dust buildup in your home. In addition, maintaining dry surfaces throughout the home is important for preventing mold growth. As mold spores roam freely in the air, they will begin to reproduce in as little as 48 hours (and sometimes less) once they land on a surface where there is excessive moisture.
Run a Dehumidifier
When your home experiences high levels of relative humidity (above 60%), the environment becomes conducive to mold growth. One solution is to run a dehumidifier and extract the excessive moisture, especially in basement homes. Basements are typically untreated with an HVAC system or the system may not always be used enough to remove moisture in the air. For homes in the Southeast that are exposed to hot and humid climates, we always recommend running a dehumidifier at all times in your basement, even when it is a treated space.
Read more here - Should You Run A Dehumidifier In Your Basement?
Improve Ventilation In Your Home
Increasing ventilation in your home is all about creating circulation to allow fresh air in and air pollutants out. To increase proper ventilation in your home, there are several things you can do.
- Open windows and door - If your home is equipped with screens on the windows and doors, take advantage when weather permits by opening them to increase ventilation in your home.
- Utilize exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. After taking showers, running exhaust fans for an extended period of time can help remove a great amount of the moisture laden air. Exhaust fans in kitchens can remove moisture from steam, not to mention the food smells, and other contaminants in the air altogether.
- Use ceiling fans and portable fans where necessary to increase air flow and circulation in the home.
- Use portable Air purifiers in spaces areas of the home you use the most to clean and circulate air throughout the home.
Have Your HVAC System Inspected for Proper Ventilation & Moisture Management
It is not uncommon for homes to have mold growth due to improperly sized HVAC systems. An assessment should be performed by an expert to determine the effectiveness of the system for providing proper ventilation and moisture management.
Call An Expert
If you or anyone in your home is experiencing continued health complications and there are concerns about Indoor Air Quality, you should reach out to an expert in your area. As a Building Science Company, we offer Indoor Air Quality Testing and Solutions to homeowners all over the North Georgia area. For more information, visit our Indoor Air Quality page.