What is indoor air quality?
Indoor air quality, or IAQ, refers to the quality of the air inside of a building. Just like the outdoors, indoors can have air pollution. The air quality indoors affects our health, in either a positive or a negative way. People who stay indoors for a long period of time are the most affected by indoor air quality.
Types of Indoor Pollutants
Some of the most common indoor pollutants include furniture surfaces containing formaldehyde, insulation that may contain asbestos, fuel-burning appliances, household cleaning products, carbon monoxide, radon, and tobacco smoke. Fortunately, many of these pollutants are contained with changes in building materials and new technologies. However, it is still possible for traces of these toxins to be present in the air. Other possible pollutants include:
- Newly installed floorings and upholstery
- Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Humidity and excess moisture are also culprits of poor air quality. Excess moisture can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, and humidity can also contribute to a higher concentration of pollutants.
The Effects of Indoor Pollutants
Some indoor pollutants have a less drastic effect on the human body than others, such as dust. Both minor and major indoor air pollutants can cause mild eye, nose, and throat irritation, and maybe even sneezing, coughing, and dizziness. Depending on whether or not they have certain health conditions, some people may have a more severe initial reaction to indoor pollutants. This is why it’s important to stay healthy, especially at an older age.
Unfortunately, people can be unknowingly exposed to harmful pollutants for years. Long-term exposure to indoor pollutants can have much more serious effects in the long term. People have developed respiratory issues, heart problems, and cancer from exposure to harmful substances present in the air. Things like switching to renewable energy will prove to have an even better long-term effect on your health in all areas of your home.
How to Improve IAQ
Add Indoor Plants
Improving indoor air quality is not a hard task at all. The same way trees and plants filter the air we breathe outdoors, household plants can do the same thing indoors. Snake plants and spider plants are some of the best indoor greenery to pull contaminants out of the air.
Carpets and Rugs
Carpets and rugs should be deep cleaned regularly. They’re known to trap dust particles and other irritants in their fibers. If you feel that you suffer from constant dust irritation, it may be a good idea to switch from carpet to hardwood, laminate, or tile flooring.
Humid air can be a breeding ground for mold and mildew, making other pollutants already present worse. By reducing the amount of moisture in the air, you’re cutting down on the number of pollutants. Dehumidifiers are especially helpful in the warmer months and also in warmer climates.
You should change filters in your ventilation system regularly. The average is about once a month, but it should be done more often if you have pets or many people living under one roof.
Because respiratory issues are more common among the elderly, it is essential that your assisted living facility, nursing home, etc., has proper indoor air quality. This mainly means proper ventilation and a clean environment to minimize the likelihood of indoor air pollutants. It is also beneficial to spend some time outdoors, if possible, as fresh air and sunshine are both beneficial to your overall health.
Indoor air quality is just one of a few things that contribute to a healthy life, but many often overlook it. Overlooking IAQ has devastating short-term and long-term effects on health, which is why people should see it as an important part of healthcare.