January 15, 2021
INDOOR AIR QUALITY
POSSIBLY THE LEAST BORING GUIDE EVER IN 3 PARTS
Foreword: A Small Word from the Author. If you are among those of us on planet earth who breathe air, it may be worth taking a short break from the Netflix series you’re currently bingeing to read this. We are not a formal authority on the topic of Indoor Air Quality, but the sources we’ve drawn from are. That said, we encourage you to do your own research, as well.
Thank you and enjoy.
There’s no way around it: we’re all spending more time at home these days. With health and safety on everyone’s mind right now, there’s a good chance you busted out some cleaning supplies, cranked up the tunes, and went full-on Mrs. Doubtfire. No shame in that!
While regular air guitar solos cleaning can help to improve Indoor Air Quality , we can do more even more to improve IAQ in the places we live and work daily. Yet, this begs the question:
“What exactly is indoor air quality?”.
A.k.a – “Biological Pollutants” Bacteria, Viruses, Animal Dander, Dust, Insects & Pollen
If the sun was shining just right, you might notice tiny particles floating around. That’s just one example of how we can observe air quality – but there’s lots more to going on with IAQ than what can been seen by the naked eye. Here’s what to know...
INDOOR AIR QUALITY: THE BASICS
IAQ has the potential to either positively benefit, or negatively impact our health and comfort. Indoor Air Pollutants are a detriment to good IAQ. Those among the most susceptible to poor indoor air quality include children, the elderly, as well as individuals living with respiratory issues. Air pollutants come from a surprisingly wide range of sources, and can include everything the obvious to the ominous.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY: THE BASICS
A.K.A. – “BIOLOGICAL POLLUTANTS” BACTERIA, VIRUSES, ANIMAL DANDER, DUST, INSECTS & POLLEN
A.ka. – “Man Made Pollutants”
Asbestos, Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, Lead,
Nitrogen Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Pesticides, Radon,
Indoor Particulate Matter, Secondhand Smoke, and
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
VOCs are chemicals that easily turn to vapor at room temperature, and, as a result, can become part of the indoor air we breathe. Inhaling VOCs can present both short term, and long term health consequences. We’ll dig deeper into VOCs next time, stay tuned…
We totally get it guys, Indoor Air Quality isn’t exactly professional wrestling in terms of entertainment value. You may have begun to wonder aloud to yourself “Why Should I care?” And to that we say…
Some folks are simply more tolerant to Obvious indoor air pollutants like pollen, dust, and bacteria. However, when it comes to the Ominous types of air pollutants like VOCs, nobody is immune to the associated health risks they present.
VOC Fast Facts:
VOCS come from a wide range of products and home goods. VOC exposure may result in short-term and/or long-term health consequenses (e.g. headaches, dizziness, damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.) VOCs can easily turn to vapor at room temperature.
If you have lungs and spend any amount of time indoors, the quality of your indoor air has the potential to, quite drastically, impact your life. That said, not EVERYTHING in your home or office is trying to attack you with a folding chair. As information and awareness about IAQ grows, more and more companies are making changes and increasing transparency about what’s in their products. Keeping what’s at stake in mind however, the extra time it takes to check a label or run a quick internet search on the home goods we purchase is worth it.
It’s either boring enough to put you to sleep, or scary enough to keep you awake at night. It’s either boring enough to put you to sleep, or scary enough to keep you awake at night.
According to EPA studies indoor air is typically 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air, AND the average American spends around 90% of their life inside. Given the potential side-effects of poor indoor air quality, that’s some unsettling news. What truly solidifies it in the “scary enough to keep you awake night” category is the fact those studies were conducted BEFORE 2020.
Go ahead and let that one sink in for minute...
LUCKILY, BETTER INDOOR AIR QUALITY CAN BE ACHIEVED WITH JUST A FEW SMALL CHANGES AND MINOR UPDATES AROUND OUR HOMES
IMPROVED VENTILATION AND AIR CIRCULATION
Routine household activities like cooking, cleaning, and bathroom create indoor air contaminants. Modern windows and doors on our homes are energy efficient, but can actually reduce IAQ by limiting new air circulation and essentially trapping contaminated air inside. The solution? Let some fresh air in. Opening windows and doors, as well as installing ventilation fans in our kitchens and bathrooms are just a few of the basic ways to improve ventilation and IAQ.
HUMIDITY CONTROL AND CLEANING
Humidity in the air creates conditions for the growth of mold and mildew; a problem to which dehumidifiers offer quick and straight forward fix. Similarly, cleaning can reduce the amount of respiratory irritants like allergens and dust found on hard surfaces or hiding in the carpet. So, in general, a cleaner home results in better IAQ, which is something that’ll make all of our OCD friends out there quite happy.
REDUCE SOURCES OF MAN-MADE AIR POLLUTANTS
We can’t choose which organic pollutants enter our homes, and which don’t, or prevent them from getting in altogether. However, when it comes to man-made air pollutant sources, that’s not exactly the case.
By choosing VOC-free paints, green cleaning solutions and building materials, along with a seemingly endless number of household products, we become the gatekeepers and can prevent the sources man-made indoor air pollutants like VOCs from entering our homes.