Indoor Air Quality Health Risks

boy sneezing
Did you know research indicates most people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors and according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.” [1] Thus, for many people, the health risks from indoor air quality issues may be greater than the risk from outdoor air quality. What is “indoor air pollution?” Indoor air pollution is simply any harmful pollutant that negatively affects your indoor air quality. Common residential examples of indoor pollutants are dust particles, viruses, bacteria, allergens, smoke/tobacco products, mold, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and combustion products (e.g. gases such as carbon monoxide). And when outdoor air pollution becomes a problem (e.g. excessive smog, local pesticides being sprayed, wildfires, etc.) those pollutants can enter and become trapped inside buildings and homes. [2] Therefore, it’s no surprise the top five air quality problems in the U.S. according to the EPA are all indoor air problems. This makes sense because indoor air is far more concentrated with pollutants than outdoor air. How can you improve your indoor air quality? The EPA states that “Solutions to air quality problems in homes and offices involve such actions as: 
  • eliminating or controlling the sources of pollution
  • increasing ventilation
  • installing air cleaning devices”
The EPA recommends you “look for signs of problems with the ventilation in your home. Signs that can indicate your home may not have enough ventilation include moisture condensation on windows or walls, smelly or stuffy air, dirty central heating and air cooling equipment, and areas where books, shoes, or other items become moldy. To detect odors in your home, step outside for a few minutes, and then upon reentering your home, note whether odors are noticeable.” [3] Concerned About Indoor Air Quality Health Risks in Your Home or Office?
Step 1: Annual Maintenance – to help remove possible sources of air pollution in your home, make sure your heating and cooling system is properly cleaned and maintained (tune up) at least once a year. Many people have the system cleaned and checked twice a year, once before fall for heating and once before summer for cooling. 
Step 2: Filters – replace or clean (for ductless washable filters) your heating/cooling system filters. The visual image of putting your mouth up against a clogged, dirty filter is very similar to what you are doing if you are running your system through it. Additionally, running your system for an extended period of time with a clogged, dirty filter will reduce airflow and cause your system to work much harder than it’s designed to work, leading to component failures and shortening the lifetime of your equipment.  Step 3: Ventilation – Install a fresh air intake from the exterior of your home set on a timer into your heating and cooling return air duct. This will help ventilate your indoor air by bringing fresh air into the home. You can also install an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) which exhausts stale air out of the house, brings in fresh air, and recaptures the heat through a heat exchanger to increase efficiency. ERV’s come in different sizes from spot ventilation to whole-home options. ERV’s can be installed as a standalone option for ductless systems or integrated into a forced-air heating/cooling system. If the outside air is not clean however or if you suffer from seasonal allergies, then installing a whole-home air purification system is advised. Step 4: Air Purification – you can improve your indoor air quality and neutralize bacteria, viruses, mold, smoke, odors, allergens and air pollutants with a whole-home air purification system. Marshall’s offers several Whole Home Air Purification Systems to fit your needs and budgets. They can be added to your existing home heating system by a professional HVAC Technician and we also offer spot air purification systems that can plug into a regular outlet and be moved from room to room. Flu and allergy season is here. Call Marshall’s today to learn how you can take control of your indoor air quality! 541-747-7445
Sources [1] [2] [3]

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