Indoor Air Quality
Air is essential to life. The average person breathes 3000 gallons of
air each day.* According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), poor indoor air quality is the 4th largest environmental threat to our
country. Approx 2 million people per year die prematurely from illness
attributed to indoor air pollution.** Americans spend approximately 90% of
their time indoors, where pollution levels can run two to five times higher
than outdoors.** Things that affect indoor air in our region are biological
pollutants (molds, pet dander, pollen), combustion pollutants (furnaces,
fireplaces), Formaldehyde (glue for building materials), VOCs (volatile
organic compounds), SVOC's (semi-volatile organic compounds (flame
retardants or phtalates), lead, dust & asbestos.
Indoor Air Quality is related directly to how energy efficient a home is, as air pollutants can enter the house through air leaks in the structure. Some of the most common housing problems or failures that occur from homes with poor indoor air quality include odors, mold, window condensation, structural rot, peeling paint, back-drafting appliances, damp, and high utility costs.
You or your family members may have sore eyes, burning nose/throat or headaches and fatigue and not even realize that it is from indoor pollutants. Worse issues such as allergies, asthma, heart disease, cancer, and other serious long-term conditions can also occur from poor indoor air quality. Sometimes individual pollutants such as carbon monoxide can even cause death. Washington State recently passed a law effective as of January 2013 that all homes must be equipped with Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Existing owner-occupied single-family residences are exempt from this requirement except upon sale.****
There are numerous things that can be done to improve your indoor air quality:
No smoking Indoors.
Install carbon monoxide detectors.
Use materials, finishes and cleaning supplies that do not emit toxins
Ventilation - If you increase the amount of fresh air brought indoors it can reduce the pollutants inside. Bathroom and kitchen fans, as well as whole house fans are a great way to remove stale air inside the home and bring in fresh air from outside.
Change Furnace Filter Regularly- Filters in your furnace work to collect dust and other pollutants. If you change your filters monthly, your furnace will work at an optimal level, and ensure as many pollutants are being trapped as possible.
Adjusting Humidity Levels- Monitoring your houses humidity levels decreases the likelihood of mold growth. Use your bathroom fans after showering and if you use a humidifier, make sure to regularly clean the unit and monitor the humidity level. Hardware stores have a humidity gauge and it is recommended to keep the humidity under 50%.
Housekeeping - Routine house cleaning can drastically reduce the amount of air pollutants in your home. Using a HEPA filter on a vacuum can capture even the smallest of particles. Using a damp mop on your floors and damp dusting keeps airborne particles from being released into the air and settling somewhere else.
For More Information Regarding Indoor Air Quality here are some good websites:
(** http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/ )