Indoor Air Pollution and Health
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the quality of air 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.
What Causes Bad Indoor Air Quality?
When you hear about bad air quality you probably think about a city with an overcast of smog. The truth is, indoor air pollution is another problem itself. As a matter of fact, the quality of indoor air can be even worse than outdoor air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the air inside may be up to five times more polluted than the air outside. This may be hard to believe when we consider all of the toxic fumes coming from automobiles, factories, and ozone into the air we breathe.
How do contaminants get into your home?
Indoor air can be filled with multiple pollutants including pollen, dust, dander, cleaning solvents, formaldehyde, fungi, viruses, and much more. These tiny particles, some too small to see, make their way into your home’s air and into your lungs.
Particles like dirt, dust, and pollen enter your home through open windows, doors, cracks, and chimneys.
Bacteria and mold easily find their way into your home and constantly reproduce to stay alive. Pets are a common allergen source that causes bad indoor air quality from of their dander, hair and saliva. Pet dander is made up of microscopic particles that shed from the animal’s body. Other sources of contaminants include perfume, cleaning supplies, paints, and cooking fumes. These are all human induced contaminants that can be reduced by eliminating the source.
How do you get rid of bad air?
Air purifiers are intended to remove unwanted pollutants from the air to provide clean quality air. Pollutants that can affect air quality in a home fall into the following categories:
- Particulate matter: Includes dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, tobacco smoke, particles generated from combustion appliances such as cooking stoves, and particles associated with tiny organisms such as dust mites, molds, bacteria, and viruses.
- Gaseous pollutants: come from combustion processes. Sources include gas cooking stoves, vehicle exhaust, and tobacco smoke. They also come from building materials, furnishings, and the use of products such as adhesives, paints, varnishes, cleaning products, and pesticides.
Both particulate and gaseous pollutants cannot be removed by a single air filter. Particulate matter is removed by High Efficiency Particulate Air filters. The HEPA filter is the most effective filter in removing 99.97% particulates 0.3 micron or larger. Gaseous pollutants are removed by using Activated Carbon filters. Carbon filters are designed to trap smoke, odors, chemicals, and gases from the air. Activated Carbon filters are rarely used alone to purify air, and are often used in conjunction with a HEPA filter to remove the larger air particulates. It is important to make sure the air purifier you are purchasing does not emit any ozone gas. This is a hazardous gas that can cause adverse health effects.
Air purifiers alone cannot solve bad indoor air problems. Removing pollutants at the source and stopping the problem before it begins is the most effective way of enjoying quality air. Air purifiers prevent old air from continuously circulating around the home and helps produce fresh contaminant free air.