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Indoor Air Quality: 5 Areas of Concern

Indoor Air Quality

Did you know that scientific evidence indicates that even in the largest industrial cities, the quality of the air indoors is often poorer than the outdoor air? Other studies have shown that on average, people in the USA and Canada spend 90% of their time indoors and that due to poor indoor air quality, there are 750,000 new asthma diagnoses made per year, in the USA alone!

Poor-quality indoor air is becoming a major problem, but little attention is being given to solving the problem. The main reason for this is that we can often visibly see outdoor air pollution, and wrongly assume that the indoor air is unpolluted. Let’s take a closer look at what causes poor indoor air quality.

What Affects The Quality Of Indoor Air?

Many things we surround ourselves with every day can potentially pollute our indoor air, especially if the rooms are not cleaned regularly and properly ventilated. When rooms are not properly ventilated, polluted air is continually circulated, causing us to continually breathe in contaminated air. Factors that cause air pollution in poorly ventilated rooms include:

Dust

Household dust can be comprised of:

  • Dead skin cells
  • Pollen
  • Hair
  • Dirt particles
  • Clothing fibers
  • Pets (fur, dander, grass/pollen, or anything they roll in when outside.)

Regular vacuuming of carpets, rugs, and furniture, dusting with a micro-fiber cloth that traps dust, and cleaning of air-conditioner ducts, can minimize dust accumulation and improve the quality of indoor air.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Any glue or aerosol sprays that are emitted during renovations or cleaning can emit volatile organic compounds that pollute the air. Examples of VOC emitting products include:

  • Adhesives
  • Household cleaning products
  • Paint
  • Air fresheners and aerosol sprays

All VOC products must be used in a well-ventilated room, and preferably stored in an outside shed/off the premises (especially paint and adhesives) People with asthma and allergy sufferers are adversely affected by these conditions.

Germs And Bacteria

When infected people cough and sneeze, the germs and bacteria will keep circulating unless the room is properly ventilated. A poorly ventilated home could result in the whole household getting ill unnecessarily.

Humidity

In a poorly ventilated room, any water leaks, trapped moist outside air, or water seepage, will elevate the humidity in the room. The ideal relative humidity range in a room is between 40 – 50%. A humidity range of higher than 50%, encourages biological growth that causes respiratory complications.

5 Areas Of Concern In Indoor Air Quality

The Environmental Protection Agency has characterized five dangerous areas of indoor air quality. These five areas are characterized as:

  1. Danger Level 1 – Toxic compounds
  2. Danger Level 2 – Infectious diseases
  3. Danger Level 3 – Allergens and particulates
  4. Danger Level 4 – Microbial growth
  5. Danger Level 5 – Carbon Monoxide

Danger Level 1 – Toxic Compounds (harmful chemicals)

Toxic compounds affecting air quality, and causing various degrees of allergic reactions, normally come from:

  • Building materials
  • Furniture
  • Carpets
  • Paints
  • Cleaning chemicals.

Toxic compounds may cause/exasperate allergies but also cause symptoms like:

  • Teary or burning eyes
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhea
  • Blurred vision

Danger Level 2 – Infectious Illnesses

Airborne micro-organisms are naturally carried in people with colds or flu. Every time an infected person coughs or sneezes, they contaminate the air with various bacteria and viruses that can in turn make the rest of the household sick.

Danger Level 3 – Allergens And Particulates

Dust, pollen, insect debris, pet dander, and cigarette smoke are examples of allergens and particulates that contribute to the contamination of indoor air. These pollutants are typically circulated by air conditioner air ducts. Symptoms of allergen and particulate inhalation include:

  • Symptoms of ear, nose, and throat infections include:
    • Runny/congested nose
    • Sore throat
    • Sneezing
    • Earache
  • The onset of asthma or aggravated symptoms in existing asthma sufferers.

Danger Level 4 – Microbial Growth

Areas of the home with poor ventilation and high moisture content, are at risk of microorganisms, fungal spores, and mold growth. The presence of any microbial growth should never be ignored. It poses a serious health risk, especially to people who are prone to allergies.

Symptoms of microbial growth inhalation vary from mild sinus and respiratory infections to severe symptoms like

  • Bacterial pneumonia – symptoms include coughing up thick yellow/green mucus, severe chills, stabbing chest pain when coughing, and profuse sweating
  • Infertility

Danger Level 5 – Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide, an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas, is naturally produced from the combustion of fuels (fuel-burning appliances like gas stoves or ovens, water heaters, and clothes dryers). It is dangerous in low doses, but fatal in high doses. People who inhale low levels of carbon monoxide complain of flu-like symptoms like a dull headache, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Inhaling higher doses causes:

  • Disorientation
  • Fatigue
  • Clumsiness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Collapse
  • Coma
  • Death

Need A Breath Of Fresh Air? Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric Are Here For You

Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electric has been passionate about maintaining good quality indoor air since 1983. With a variety of solutions to improve the quality of the air in your home, we ensure that the air you breathe is clean and safe. Call us at 1-561-391-1048 for any indoor air needs or concerns, today.

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