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Indoor Air Quality
Inadequate Air Flow
If not enough outdoor air enters your home, pollutants rise. Because of this, health issues may occur. For this reason, it is important that homes and buildings have adequate means of air flow (ventilation ) The amount of leaks in and out of the home also plays a role in levels of contaminants.
Usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions.
Some sources, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the amount of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs.
For most indoor air quality problems in the home, source control is the most effective solution.
Another approach to lowering the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your home is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming indoors.
Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans, when the weather permits, or running a window air conditioner with the vent control open increases the outdoor ventilation rate. Local bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors remove contaminants directly from the room where the fan is located and also increase the outdoor air ventilation rate.
It is particularly important to take as many of these steps as possible while you are involved in short-term activities that can generate high levels of pollutants — for example, painting, paint stripping, heating with kerosene heaters, cooking, or engaging in maintenance and hobby activities such as welding, soldering, or sanding. You might also choose to do some of these activities outdoors, if you can and if weather permits.
- Biological Pollutants
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products
- Lead (Pb)
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Radon (Rn)
- Indoor Particulate Matter
- Secondhand Smoke/ Environmental Tobacco Smoke
- Stoves and Heaters
- Fireplaces and Chimneys
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Advanced designs of new homes are starting to feature mechanical systems that bring outdoor air into the home. Some of these designs include energy-efficient heat recovery ventilators (also known as air-to-air heat exchangers).
The introduction of outdoor air is one important factor in promoting good air quality. Air may enter a home in several different ways, including:
- through natural ventilation, such as through windows and doors
- through mechanical means, such as through outdoor air intakes associated with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system
- through infiltration, a process by which outdoor air flows into the house through openings, joints and cracks in walls, floors and ceilings, and around windows and doors.
Indoor Air Pollution and Health
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns.
Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.
According to Consumer Report...Multiple studies of portable air purifiers show that using HEPA filters results in reductions of 50 percent or higher in particulate matter. In one 2018 study of about 130 households, filtration resulted in about 30 percent reduction in coarse particles, like dust.
A dirty filter can restrict airflow, preventing the system from working like it’s supposed to, and that can eventually lead to a breakdown. If you’re getting low airflow, check the air filter—a clogged filter can cut airflow to a trickle.
Infiltration occurs in all homes to some extent.
Natural ventilation describes air movement through open windows and doors. If used properly natural ventilation can at times help moderate the indoor air temperature, which may become too hot in homes without air-conditioning systems or when power outages or brownouts limit or make the use of air conditioning impossible.
Natural ventilation can also improve indoor air quality by reducing pollutants that are indoors. Examples of natural ventilation are:
- opening windows and doors
- window shading such as closing the blinds
UV lights are used to kill germs and mold. Stick and U-shaped lamps are used by various manufacturers. Some air germicidal HVAC lights are coordinated with the blower motor to turn on and off as it does.
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