Many individuals spend their time indoors, whether that be at work, at home, or in other various buildings making it important to have a comfortable indoor environment. As new homes and buildings are being built to be more efficient, the exchange of indoor and exterior air can be a very important factor. There are internationally accepted industry standards published by ASHRAE for both residential and commercial buildings. These international standards dictate minimum requirements for air exchanges and ventilation in a building. With various different ways to improve indoor air quality, it’s first important to understand exactly what indoor air quality is before taking steps to improve your IAQ.
What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?
Indoor Air Quality refers the air quality within and around a building and how it relates to the well-being of the occupants within the building. Some factors that can influence indoor air quality include temperature, humidity, ventilation, air changes, outside air being brought in, mold from water damage, and exposure to chemicals.
Understanding indoor air quality and how to control common indoor contaminants can help reduce health concerns within the space.
What are the Qualities of Good IAQ?
The qualities of good indoor air quality include adequate ventilation to allow outside air into a building, comfortable temperatures and humidity levels, and control of pollutants inside of a building.
What are some of the Most Common Causes of IAQ Issues?
- Lack of ventilation allowing outside air to enter a building
- Poor maintenance of HVAC systems and air vents
- Moisture and dampness due to leaks, flooding, and humidity
- Contaminated air due to construction, remodeling or common dust
- Chemicals or products used in the indoor environment
How Can I Improve My Indoor Air Quality?
There are many steps you can take to improve the indoor air quality in your home and office and reduce the levels of pollutants circulating through the air:
- Have your HVAC system regularly inspected, cleaned and serviced
- Ensure all the HVAC system is tested and balanced to make sure the cooled air is going to the right place
- Test that the system is not leaking air
- Keep windows closed when pollen and humidity levels are high
- Store paint, household cleaners, and other chemicals in air-tight containers
- Vacuum and clean regularly, with a HEPA filtered vacuum
- Keep the humidity level around 50% to reduce the growth of mold and mildew
- Ensure you have proper ventilation (open you windows on warm days to allow outside air to enter the building)
What are the Benefits of Clean Air?
By removing airborne particles and pollutions, individuals suffering from allergies or asthma may see relief from clean air. Even healthy individuals will see an improvement in breathing because particulates that were once circulating and contaminating the indoor air are no longer entering the respiratory system.
How Will I Know if I Need My Air Ducts Cleaned?
Air ducts should to be inspected on a regular basis to assess if they are dirty or clean (as per NADCA ACR 2013). If the system is found to be dirty it should then cleaned to help reduce pollutants in the air and improve indoor air quality. Look out for these signs:
- Visible mold growth
- Odors or allergic reactions
- Dust and debris coming out of the register
- An unusual amount of dust on furniture and surfaces