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Do you find yourself feeling run down and tired at home? Maybe you’re experiencing more headaches than usual. If so, the quality of your indoor air may be what’s to blame!
According to a survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, only nine 9% of Americans consider indoor air quality a threat to their health. Worse yet, a staggering 70% aren’t concerned about it at all. At Air Dynamics HVAC we care about your air, which is why we would like to help shed some light on the importance of maintaining healthy air quality at home and how you can prevent sick building syndrome.
In this article, we will discuss the following key points:
- Why Indoor Air Quality is Important
- Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
- What is Sick Building Syndrome?
- Steps to Correct Poor Indoor Air Quality
- How Can I Prevent Poor Air Quality at Home?
Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?
Considering the amount of time most people spend indoors especially during the cold weather season; poor indoor air quality can quickly become a serious threat to your health.
Not only can the direct health effects caused by indoor air pollutants show themselves shortly after exposure; but they can also linger or appear many years later. Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can greatly reduce your risk of health-related issues arising due to poor air quality.
Did You Know: Compromised indoor air quality can cause or worsen symptoms associated with asthma, allergies, and other serious health conditions
If you or another member of your household is more sensitive to pollutants due to underlying health conditions, it would be prudent to consider making a few simple adjustments to improve your overall IAQ (indoor air quality).
What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to poor indoor air quality in your home or office. This is because pollutants can come from a variety of sources, including but not limited to:
- Building Materials & Furnishings producing VOC’s
- Household Cleaning Products that produce VOC’s
- Fuel-Burning Combustion Appliances capable of releasing pollutants such as Carbon Monoxide.
- Excess Moisture causing or contributing to the growth of mold.
- Tobacco products
- Outdoor sources such as:
- Outdoor air pollution
What is Sick Building Syndrome?
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health “Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) describes a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort-related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in that building.” Therefore, if you do frequently find yourself saying things like “I feel so much better outside.”
You May Be Right!
Signs Your HVAC System is Part Of The Problem
While your HVAC unit may not be the direct cause of your discomfort it can often exacerbate symptoms caused by the circulation of common household allergens such as dust, pet dander and VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) in your air. The continued circulation of these indoor pollutants can result in the following symptoms commonly associated with sick building syndrome and poor indoor air quality.
- Dryness and irritation of the nose, eyes, throat, and skin
- Shortness of breath
- Hypersensitivity and allergies
- Sinus congestion
- Coughing and sneezing
- Difficulty concentrating
Whether you are indoors or outdoors, the quality of the air you breathe can have a major impact on your health. This is especially true for individuals who already suffer from asthma, allergies or a compromised immune system, as they are more sensitive to the harmful effects of poor indoor air quality.
According to the American Lung Association, poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer & chronic lung diseases such as asthma.
If you or another member of your household is experiencing symptoms associated with poor indoor air, it may be time to consider taking the necessary steps to improve your overall air quality.
Your lungs will surely thank you!
What Steps Can I Take to Correct Poor Indoor Air Quality?
Open Up Your Windows
It’s by far the simplest and cheapest thing you can do to improve your indoor air quality! Opening your windows for just five minutes a day when weather permits can not only help boost your mood, it works wonders at removing harmful pollutants from your indoor air as well, making your home a healthier place to live.
Spruce Up Your Décor With Houseplants
Houseplants that require low light are perfect for in-home decorating and help to improve indoor air quality by filtering out those pesky pollutants that make us sick.
Worried about allergies and the use of indoor houseplants? Don’t be!
Certain plants are known to relieve allergies, rather than cause them. Some help by acting as a natural humidifier, while others work well at removing formaldehyde and reducing benzene levels, both of which are triggers for allergy sufferers.
In fact, a study conducted by NASA, found that plants like the dracaena marginata might be a perfect fit for allergy sufferers! Not only do they perform exceptionally well when it comes to purifying indoor air of chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene while aiding in controlling in-home humidity levels. But, perhaps best of all, the dracaena marginata’s are fairly low-maintenance plants that are easy to grow indoors even if you don’t have the best green thumb.
Schedule Routine Maintenance For Your HVAC Unit
It’s true, maintaining your HVAC system regularly will not only help to prevent future problems and potential break down’s with your unit, but it will help improve your indoor air quality too. Helping you and your family avoid unnecessary downtime due to allergies or illness.
Fact: Dirty air filters are less effective in filtering out pollutants, ultimately making your system work harder. In turn, decreasing your indoor air quality and making your home a less comfortable place to live.
A well-maintained unit is a happy unit. Capable of not only properly filtering your air but saving you additional money on those monthly utility bills. Bottom line, don’t forget to schedule your units yearly maintenance with a professional & remember to change out those filters as needed.
Once you are ready to schedule, remember Air Dynamics HVAC does more than just a basic filter change. We provide our customers with a full report on their equipment’s performance; including but not limited to, pressures, temperatures, Amp draws, temperature splits, Etc. To find out more about our Home Maintenance Plan and how it can help save you money click HERE.
How Can I Prevent Poor Air Quality at Home?
Preventing poor indoor air quality might be easier than you think! Let’s go over a couple of simple adjustments any homeowner can make to prevent unnecessary pollutants from accumulating in their living space.
As we make our way about each day we’re constantly picking up nasty stuff on the bottom of our shoes. These pollutants most often include pollen, pesticides, bacteria, fungi, and feces among other things. So, it should come as no surprise that number one on our list is
Take Off Your Shoes!
Yep, that’s right! When you walk inside your house, it is always best to take a minute to remove your shoes and place them near the doorway. This simple act alone can drastically change the number of pollutants carried in and dispersed throughout your household each day.
Not only will it help keep your air cleaner, but it will also keep your flooring looking it’s best for years to come! Not to mention safer for any little ones in the crawling/toddler stages. Plus, there’s no denying it — kicking off those shoes feels great after a long day on your feet!
Keep Your Pets Groomed
Pet dander can be a major issue for pet owners, especially for those households whose members or guests suffer from allergies. Unfortunately, your pets’ dander (skin cells) can be found nearly everywhere in your home. In fact, it may surprise you that, the amount of dander in homes where residents have pets often exceeds the amount of actual pet fur found in the residence.
So, what can you do about it?
If you have pets in your home, be sure to clean them regularly. Including, bathing & brushing them outdoors if possible; as well as vacuuming floors and other household upholstery items routinely with a HEPA filter. This will help to keep dander and pet hair to a minimum.
Clean With Nontoxic Chemicals and Avoid Aerosol Fresheners
It’s a well-known fact that many store-bought household cleaners contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals can easily cause eye, nose, throat and lung irritation. Which, is why nearly every cleaning bottle will advise you to open a window or only use it in a well-ventilated area. What you may not be considering is the amount of VOC’s or volatile organic compounds that are being released in and carried throughout the air you breathe.
Instead, consider using alternative cleaning products that are non-toxic or trying out the power of some items you may already have in your home such as:
- Vinegar – Thanks to its acidity, vinegar is nothing short of a cleaning wonder. It can effectively remove grease grime and soap scum with ease and is gentle enough to use on most surfaces.
- Baking Soda – Baking soda, a pantry staple is a great choice for tackling mildew in the bathroom. Sure to become a household favorite for its ability to effectively clean, deodorize and brighten.
- Lemon Juice – Natural lemon juice packs serious power when it comes to annihilating mold & mildew. In addition to smelling awesome lemon juice is excellent at cutting through grease and can be used to shine.
Get Rid Of Mold
This nasty fungus likes to grow in dark, damp areas like your bathroom, laundry room or basement. As mold grows it continues to release spores into the air that can trigger allergy symptoms.
If your home or office is a breeding ground for mold and bacteria growth an air conditioner will only circulate those spores. This circulation of these spores can cause stuffy noses, sore throats, and make you and your family susceptible to illness that could adversely affect the health of you and your loved ones.
Consider an Air Purifier
Central HVAC air purifiers like the ones used by AirDynamics are installed in the return-air ductwork immediately before the air handler or furnace. Some filters are replaceable while others can easily be washed. These units do not use electricity; rather they filter pollutants from the air flowing through them while the blower fan is running. For more information on central air purifiers and to see if they’re the right fit for your home check out Should I Consider an Air Cleaner for my HVAC System?
In addition to the helpful information mentioned here, Air Dynamics has published an article titled 13 Easy Pollution Solutions for Any Home to help you get started on your way to breathing easier at home.
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