According to the EPA, indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the “the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.” Maintaining a healthy IAQ levels is as important as it seems – and maybe easier.
With improved building techniques and modern materials, today’s homes are built tighter than ever, which greatly improves energy efficiency. However, the unintended side effect is that fewer air exchanges take place with outdoor air, resulting in overall poorer indoor air quality. Studies show that indoor air is 2-5 times more contaminated than outdoor air. When you consider that people spend nearly 90% of their time indoors, that is a large opportunity for improving home air quality.
Health problems associated with poor indoor air quality include respiratory ailments, allergies, asthma, certain cancers, and heart disease. Individuals react in different ways to indoor air pollution, depending on age, general health, and other factors. It is also suspected that individuals can develop sensitivity to certain biological or chemical pollutants after repeated exposures.
Pollutants in indoor air include mold spores, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), combustion pollutants, radon, formaldehyde, and house dust mites. Combustion pollutants such as carbon monoxide can be introduced into the home due to an improperly vented or malfunctioning gas appliance, or simply through auto fumes from attached garages. To help with IAQ, we can reduce levels of gaseous pollutants by keeping appliances maintained, changing air filters, allowing new materials to off-gas VOCs before bringing them into the home, and other measures.