Have you ever thought about the air you’re breathing in? It’s not really the kind of thing that comes up as a conversation topic. Well, that’s about to change.

You would be excused for thinking that outdoor air quality is the only major concern. Yet studies indicate that the average person spends more than 90% of their time indoors. That includes time at home, work, shopping centres, restaurants, etc.

According to leading sources like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) there is serious cause for concern. Indoor air quality isn’t what we expect it to be; indoor pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoors. In a smaller space, those concentrations could cause serious harm.

However, when there is such a large focus on reducing outdoor pollution, we understandably forget about our home or workplace. It’s necessary to shift our way of thinking. To do that, we must focus on the importance of indoor air quality.

Influences on Indoor Air Quality

You would think that sitting inside means you’re protected against the most harmful pollutants. There’s no car exhaust fumes inside your home. Sadly, you’d be wrong.

It’s surprising to learn there is a considerable amount of air pollution indoors. Some agencies, such as the EPA, also acknowledge the influence air quality around buildings has on life indoors. That’s because pollutants can easily blow in through open doors and windows.

Some of the most common influences on indoor air quality are:

  • Dust
  • Animal fur
  • Moisture, mould and airborne bacteria
  • Carbon monoxide from fuel burning combustion sources
  • Natural gas appliances
  • Faulty heating or cooling systems
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Varnish from wooden furniture
  • Pesticides, including bug spray
  • Smoke from vape pens, cigarettes, candles and fireplaces

Many of the leading indoor pollutants are from everyday items or activities. You’re surrounded by them while cooking, cleaning or washing. Additionally, the above harm of these pollutants can be compounded by poor internal ventilation.

Air Quality and its Health Impact

If you suffer from allergies like hay fever, you know just how quickly pollens, dust and animal fur can trigger it. Often it’s an instantaneous outbreak of sneezing, itchy eyes and perhaps even a rash.

Similar reactions occur when there is a high level of indoor air pollution. And although side effects will vary, many people experience a noticeable health impact. Some of the most likely reactions include a runny nose, eye irritation, sneezing, skin irritation, headaches, fatigue and breathing difficulties.

Not everyone will react the same way. Asthma sufferers are more likely to face breathing problems when there’s a large amount of smoke in there. Eczema sufferers will notice skin irritation when there’s dust and pollutants pouring out of central heating units.

For something more severe like high carbon monoxide levels and poor ventilation, everyone will likely experience headaches and dizziness with prolonged exposure.

Prolonged exposure to low quality air may also lead to respiratory problems, heart disease and even cancer. Ongoing use of chemicals and harsh products inside are especially problematic in this instance.

Even the use of gas ovens in poorly ventilated areas has reportedly posed a health risk to people of all ages. Hence why it is beneficial to proactively look after your home’s air quality.

How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

The best way to improve your indoor air quality is to maintain high quality air filters and ventilation systems.

At home, this means running your exhaust fan or rangehood when cooking and showering. This removes moisture, steam and other chemicals – and it can also be useful when using strong cleaning products.

Meanwhile, regular cleaning of air conditioning filters is also going to maintain a high level of fresh air. HVAC filters collect dust and debris that would otherwise be spread throughout the home and office, and into your lungs.

Evaporative cooling air conditioners are regarded as one of the best cooling systems for breathing purposes. They do not rely on refrigerants to cool the air. Instead, they use natural evaporation to cool external air. Paired with natural airflow, and you have fresh, filtered air flowing throughout the home.

Other beneficial steps include assessing and inspecting gas appliances regularly. Natural gas leaks and carbon monoxide leaks can be incredibly dangerous. Minor repairs to gas appliances, heaters and flues/ventilation can save lives.

In terms of large commercial buildings, mechanical ventilation may be necessary. If you cannot open windows, assisted ventilation will help circulate indoor air. When paired with clean HVAC filters, it’s a positive way to maintain a comfortable work environment for staff and visitors.

It’s important to address any issues with indoor air quality promptly. You do not want to allow harmful pollutants and allergens to build up or cause ongoing health concerns.

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