What is your IAQ?
First, we need to understand what indoor air quality (IAQ) really means. IAQ refers to the environmental characteristics inside homes and buildings. Characteristics that determine the quality of indoor air include the concentrations of pollutants, as well as temperature and humidity. The amount of pollutants indoor air retains is affected by two types of sources. The first type consists of contaminants we contribute to air quality, such as cleaning and pest control products, pet dander, cooking emissions, and smoking. The second source is the construction, maintenance, and HVAC unit or systems that exchange and distribute our indoor air.
How does Indoor Air Quality become polluted?
The rate at which outdoor air replaces indoor air is described as the air exchange rate. If the exchange rate is low, the air quality is more susceptible to being contaminated by indoor and outdoor contaminants. Indoor air pollution is measured by two factors. The first is the "concentration" or the amount of pollutant present in each unit of air someone is exposed to. Secondly, "exposure" refers to the pollutant concentration, as well as the time the person has spent in the space.
Short term effects from exposure to unhealthy indoor air quality really depend on the individual. Allergic reactions and symptoms can vary from person-to-person; although initial symptoms can be eye and nose irritation, coughing, sore or itchy throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
Is Your Airtight HVAC System Hurting Your Indoor Air Quality?
These days, most apartments and houses are built in such a way that heating and cooling efficiency relies on airtight conditions. Although this saves energy and is considered safer for the house, it also takes much longer for new (fresh) air to get inside the house, thus extending the amount of time it takes for new air to exchange itself with stale air.
As you can guess, this can make the indoor air quality less than satisfactory. Inevitably, some homes are going to experience a build-up of unhealthy air contaminated by indoor pollutants. Consequently, this may cause allergic reactions caused by indoor irritants such as smoke, plant pollen, animal dander and even mold spores.
How is Indoor Air Quality improved?
So how do you control the quality of your indoor air? Finding and controlling the source is the most important step. Next, insuring proper ventilation can increase the air exchange rate, so that the concentration of contaminants is reduced, bringing fresh air into your space!
If you've already determined you have an air quality problem, and your HVAC maintenance technician has checked to make sure your system is working properly, then a professional duct cleaning can solve 3 issues at once:
- Reduce dust in the home, alleviating allergies, reduced risk of inhaling pollutants, as well as other respiratory issues;
- Prevent pet dander that has collected inside your vents from re-circulating in the air;
- Resolve poor ventilation/air exchange problems by removing impurities and dirt that can build up in the HVAC system.
You should know that mold spores travel through our air. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with allergic reactions, such as upper respiratory tract symptoms, in otherwise healthy people.
If you think your air quality is affected by mold or microbial activity, or you think you are suffering from mold allergies, you should have a mold specialist come out to do a thorough evaluation of the property - they will look for any structural signs of trapped moisture, as well as provide you with more information about mold testing.
Think you know all about air quality? You can test your IAQ buy taking the EPA's Indoor Air Quality Quiz!
More Info? Call AdvantaClean if you are concerned about your home's indoor air quality.
Check out our Healthy Home and Business Tips for more information on your indoor air quality!