Over the last few years scientific evidence has shown that the air inside homes or other buildings is more polluted than the air outside. This pollution can come from several sources. Some of the materials the home is made out of can pollute the air as they break down. An example might be paint and other consumer products that contain volatile organic compounds can off-gas causing headaches and other health issues. Some older buildings still have asbestos in the walls, and there might be radon leaking in through the foundation. There are also other periodic sources of air pollution in the home such as cleaning products. These pollutants can build-up if there is not enough air flow in the inside of the home or recirculating dirty air through home HVAC systems, and can lead to levels of pollution which are higher than the outside air in giant cities.
The good news is that air pollution can be fairly easy to test for and there are many things you can do to influence it. Usually, the best way to evaluate indoor air quality is to pay attention to indicators of pollution. In some cases, ill health can be an indicator of indoor air pollution particularly if symptoms arise when home and disappear when visiting elsewhere. Identifying potential source of indoor air pollution can also be helpful. Sources might be:
- combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products
- deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation
- wet or damp carpet
- cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
- central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
- outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution
Identifying these sources might not indicate air pollution, but they are a good start.
It is a good idea to purchase a device to measure radon levels in the home. This gas is odorless, colorless and can cause lung cancer (The Inside Story: a Guide to Indoor Air quality). There are many different types of devices available, and they tend to be fairly cheap.
To help mitigate indoor air pollution, one thing you can immediately do is increase ventilation. This is because newer homes are often nearly airtight, leading to a build-up of pollutants. Open windows when cleaning or install more sophisticated systems for general pollution. Keep the floors clean and use doormats to prevent people tracking in unpleasant things from outside. Keeping humidity down can also help indoor air pollution by creating an inhospitable environment for dust mites and mold spores (Davis). Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can help to permanently remove fine dust from carpets, drapes, and upholstered furniture.
If you are following these tips that is a good start but the most reliable, efficient and affordable solution to improving indoor air quality is to install whole house air purifiers. These are small units that can be attached to your air handler or furnace to clean and filter the air that is being circulated through your home. Whole house air purifiers are designed to remove microscopic particulates that can increase indoor air pollution. Whole system air purifiers are the most efficient way to clean the air that you breathe in every room of a building and actually much more cost effective than buying individual room air purifiers. S&S Mechanical Contractors of St. George, Utah are highly trained in indoor air quality systems.