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Causes of Poor Indoor Air and How to Fix it

fresh indoor air

The modern era has ushered in a host of technologies that allow people to enjoy more time in the comfort of their own homes. Americans now spend an average of 87 percent of their daily lives indoors, according to a study on human activities sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When you’re relaxing at home with your family, the last thing you want to worry about is indoor air pollution, yet the air inside most homes is more polluted than the air outside. The following tips can help you avoid the health risks associated with poor indoor air quality by identifying and addressing its causes.

Closing the Door on Allergens

Exposure to indoor pollutants poses long-term health hazards for every family member, but contaminants like dust mites, pollen, animal dander are particularly troublesome for those with allergies, asthma and other respiratory conditions. Allergens often hitch a ride indoors on clothing and belongings. Use these strategies to help keep allergens at bay:

  • Designate a spot near the door to stash shoes, coats, bags and backpacks
  • Keep allergens out of your bed by washing bedding weekly in hot water.
  • Clean carpets and rugs regularly using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter.
  • Keep windows closed during allergy season and use your air conditioner to circulate pre-filtered air.

A Volatile Pollution Problem

Some of the pollutants most dangerous to human health are substances known collectively as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Many household products and building materials emit gases that include harmful contaminants like formaldehyde, benzene and methylene chloride. Items that harbor VOCs range from paints and solvents to pesticides and air fresheners. Proper use of products containing VOCs in the key to limiting your exposure. Use them in well-ventilated areas, read any warning labels and store the items safely away from living areas.

Protection Against Particulates

When it comes to airborne contaminants, size matters. The EPA reports that particles less than 10 microns in size present the greatest danger because they easily pass deep into the lungs. Microns are so small that it takes around 500 of them to form the period at the end of this sentence.

Fortunately, a number of air purification products are available that are designed to trap, deactivate or even kill microscopic pathogens. A great example is Carrier’s Infinity air purification system, which captures and kills 95 percent of particulates as small as .30 microns. This award-winning air cleaner works with your existing forced-air HVAC system to clean the air up to eight times each hour.

Mold Prevention with UV Lights

An efficient air conditioner does a great job at cooling your home and keeping humidity levels balanced, but sometimes the indoor coil and condensate pan that collect moisture from the air can promote the growth of pollutants like mold, mildew and bacteria. Specialty UV lights use ultraviolet radiation to destroy these biological pollutants so that they won’t take up residence in your home.

Sealing Drafty Ductwork

The EPA estimates that up to 30 percent of the conditioned air that forced-air HVAC systems deliver is lost to leaky ductwork. All those cracks, gaps and loose connections allow pollutants entry into your home as well. The most effective way to seal ductwork is with the Aeroseal process, a technology developed by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

  • Under pressure, sealant is sprayed into the ducts as an aerosolized mist.
  • The sealant collects at every gap, crack or hole to form an impenetrable barrier.
  • In around an hour, your ductwork is completely sealed, blocking pollutants from entering your home.

At Ireland Heating & Air Conditioning, we’re here to ensure that you and your family always enjoy a safe, healthy and comfortable indoor environment. An Indoor Air Quality test from our highly trained experts offers you a quick and convenient way to detect airborne pollutants in your North Shore home. To learn more or to schedule service, check out our indoor air quality solutions or call 847-388-0108 today.