What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?
Indoor Air Quality or IAQ is a measurement of the health and comfort of the air you breathe while inside your home, office or any other facility. What most people don’t realize is that the air we breathe inside can be 20 times more polluted than outdoor air.
The next few minutes may well be the most important you’ve ever spent to educate yourself to protect you, your family and your home from indoor air pollutants.
When heating and cooling was first introduced, cleaning your air wasn’t even a consideration. In fact the first air filters (predominately made of metal mesh, crude fiberglass and plastic coated hog hair) were installed just to keep the equipment free of the dust and lint from your home. IAQ wasn’t even on the horizon. Several factors that have helped in other ways have caused indoor air to become more polluted:
Houses are built better than ever — or at least tighter than ever. At first blush, you’d think that’s why you would want a really tight home. After all, you want the conditioned air to stay inside. In fact, that’s part of the problem. Cooked fish last week, painted bathroom last month, kids been sick, dog needs a bath and it’s all locked inside your home with you. It gets worse. Every time you turn on the bath fan, the kitchen hood, your clothes dryer and even some heating systems, your home actually starts sucking in unchecked damp or contaminated air.
We keep bringing more and more man-made products into the home: plastics, drywall, formicas, plywood, particle board impregnated with arsenic dioxide, synthetic carpets, man-made fabrics & upholstery, faux finishes, and so on. These all emit gases — sometimes for years and years — the results of which can be off-gassing and odors that range from a mild irritant to a full blown major health issue.
Times have changed. We now spend over 90% of our entire lives indoors. When was the last time you left the windows open to air the house out? If you’re like the rest of America, our heat and air is on year round.
We surround ourselves with every conceivable toxin and repeatedly expose ourselves to noxious materials, including:
Health issues can help indicate indoor air quality problems, but they are not always caused by your air, so it is recommended that you see a doctor to get their professional opinion on the causes of any new health concerns. If health problems suddenly occur and coincide with a move to a residence, a substantial renovation, or if your home has recently been treated with pesticides.
Identifying the cause for indoor air quality problems is key to finding the proper solutions. Although symptoms such as colds, watery eyes or dry skin does not necessarily mean that you have an indoor air quality problem, but it is important that you are aware of the type and number of potential sources present in your home.
Actions in the home can be considerable sources of indoor air pollution. Look for signs of problems with the ventilation in your home. Your home may not have sufficient ventilation if you have moisture condensation on windows or walls, stuffy air with strange odor, central heating and air cooling equipment that hasn’t been cleaned, and areas where you see mold. Visit www.epa.gov/mold for more information.
The Dangers In Your Home
The air in a typical home contains many unhealthy contaminants such as pollen, mold, smoke, animal dander, smog, and dust. These substances can be damaging to the lungs, irritate the eyes and sinuses, aggravate and cause allergies and asthma. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, and 65% of that time is spent at home. With today’s tightly sealed energy efficient homes and the daily use of modern cleaners, sprays, and fabrics, the only way to keep your indoor air safe and healthy is to use an indoor air cleaner. So, who’s really at risk from these pollutants and contaminants? While EVERYONE can benefit from better IAQ, three distinct groups are most at risk:
1. The very young While medical science is remarkable, they still can’t cure the common cold – they know it’s germs & viruses, but just can’t knock it out. Too often, after a child has missed day after day at school and taking a variety of drugs (THAT DO NOT CURE THE PROBLEM – ONLY MASK ITS SIDE EFFECTS)
2. The older generation Between age deteriorating bodies, prior infections, AIDS and taking immunosuppressant drugs, our own immune system is constantly being challenged by undesirable side effects.
3. Those vulnerable Infants, immune-compromised patients, pregnant women, persons with chronic respiratory disorders, those recovering from surgical procedures or illness, and CONTACT lens wearers. In some individuals, infections can even invade bone and the membranes that enclose the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Those w/ domestic animals – dogs, cats, birds are also at higher risk.
SYMPTOMS OF POOR AIR QUALITY
There is no doubt about it FEMA, the EPA, ASHREA and the American Lung Association all agree… poor IAQ can manifest itself if threshold levels are exceeded:
America’s Most Wanted
(AKA: The Bad Boys of IAQ)
Particle Count (stuff you can filter out): – It’s not what we can see that can hurt us, in fact with the human eye you can only see down to 20 microns, the size of a speck of dust. The irritants that we need to remove are the pollens and microscopic particles down in the .5 microns and smaller that affect our lungs and eyes.
#1 DUST/DUST MITES & their feces
Symptoms associated with DUST MITE allergy:
# 2 COCKROACHES & their feces
If you are allergic to house dust, you may also be allergic to cockroaches.
An allergy to cockroaches is similar to an allergy to dust mites. The cockroach allergens stem from their shed outer coverings (cuticles), their saliva, and their eggs and feces. Cockroach allergens can be found in house dust and bedding.
Symptoms associated with cockroach allergy:
Symptoms associated with MOLD contamination:
Organic dust toxic syndrome (ODTS), also known as grain fever, is fairly common. ODTS is not an allergic disease, but results from exposure to concentrations of organic dust that is contaminated with a variety of microorganisms, including mold.
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis also can be caused by exposure to mold spores from air-conditioning systems, humidifiers, and ventilation shafts. The symptoms of this disease are very similar to those of ODTS, however, the effects of hypersensitivity pneumonitis may become chronic, disabling, and life-threatening.
#4 VOC’s: Volatile Organic Compounds
Symptoms associated with VOC contamination:
The easiest way to reduce exposure and the effects of VOC’s is to introduce the appropriate quantity of FRESH AIR…… but there-in lies the problem, fresh air even in the inappropriate quantities can overburden the HVAC systems with both heat & humidity and can even introduce worse contaminates that include pollen / diesel fumes / dumpster odors / bug spray / smog / local fire & smoke / pollution / red tide
Humidity: Too little and you’re faced with chapped lips, irritated nasal passages & your home starts falling apart.. to much and you’re faced with dust mite contamination and biological issues IE: MOLD growth.
#5 HUMIDITY (moisture in your air)
Symptoms associated with poor MOISTURE control:
4 Strategies to Provide Better IAQ in Your Home
Determining the source of indoor air pollutants is essential to improving its quality. Controlling things such as humidity in your home can reduce a number of harmful pollutants such as mold, mildew, dust mites and bacteria.
Proper air filtration can remove virtually all of these contaminants via mechanical filters, which capture the elements. There are several sizes and designs that can be added to your system for a whole-house filtration.
Fresh outdoor air in your home is key to better air quality. Heating & Cooling systems do not have a way of bringing that air inside, therefore people resort to finding other methods of freshening
By using filters, fresh air, the newest technology of ultra-violet lighting and other bacteria eliminating products, you can remove toxins from your home
Now We Have New Rules & Goals
Restore and maintain your home to recognized acceptable levels – your home should be a sanctuary where you FEEL better and your body’s own immune system can recuperate. Start the remedy today – every homeowner can take immediate steps to improve the IAQ – in your home.
10 Tips for Good Air Quality
To avoid common air quality problems within the home, follow a few simple steps:
Benefits of Better Indoor Air Quality
The air inside your home has been proven to contain more pollutants than even the largest cities in the country. Many companies have developed equipment that can remove virtually all of the allergens in your home air, such as dust, pet dander, smoke or bacteria.
We proudly offer and install a wide selection of indoor air quality products that are cutting edge, including: air purification systems, air cleaners, filtration systems, humidity-control systems and ventilation systems. Remove those unwanted & harmful airborne pollutants and continue to breathe easy.
These add-on systems for home’s cooling and heating systems help clean the air throughout your entire home. They work to eliminate pollutants that produce bacteria and allergens. Ideal for allergy sufferers and people who simply wish to breath cleaner air. A professionally installed air purifier can help rid your home of dust, dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, bacteria and viruses, smoke and more!
There are several choices for air filters. The differences between each is the amount of pollutants they remove from the air.
Box or 1″ Pleated
Although not specifically designed for improving indoor air quality, they do assist in protecting the integrity of your equipment. They require no electrical hook-up. It is recommended that they be replaced every month.
These air cleaners remove particles by electrically charging them and then attracting those particles to an oppositely charged plate. The allergens and pollutants are then trapped in the filter and do not get released back into the air. Electrostatic filters are considered highly efficient, affordable to operate and easy to maintain.
HEPA High Efficiency Particulate Arresting
Considered to produce the best results, the HEPA filter requires a separate blower and replaceable media. However, it effectively removes a larger percentage of pollen as well as many asthma and allergy causing pollutants. The core to the HEPA air cleaner technology is a paper filter that has very small holes that limit the size of any particle than can pass though.
Speak to your technician to determine which filters are best for your needs.
Energy Recovery Ventilation
Several manufacturers make Energy Recovery or Fresh Air Ventilation systems that remove stale, used air from the home, while bringing in clean crisp air from the outdoors without a loss in cooling efficiency. These systems can also be zoned to allow you to choose which rooms receive priority ventilation.
A whole house dehumidification system can control the moisture in the air and results in a more comfortable home environment. Managing the in-home humidity levels can minimize the spread of airborne pollutants and allergens. Moisture in the home can cause various problems such as mold, mildew, dust mites, and bacteria.
Excellent for reducing bacteria, fungi, and microbial growth on wet indoor cooling coil surfaces. Ideal when used with other indoor air quality products.