7 Factors That Contribute to Poor Indoor Air Quality (and What You Can Do About Them)

When you think of air quality, you probably picture smokestacks and haze – outdoor scenes. But the concentration of pollutants is often up to five times higher indoors than typical outdoor concentrations. Because Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors2, the quality of indoor air has a greater impact on our overall health. So, what factors contribute to poor indoor air quality and what can you do about them? We are exploring this topic to help you live in a healthier, cleaner home.

poor indoor air quality

Poor Indoor Air Quality and Your Health

First, let’s look at how poor indoor air quality can affect your health. Typically, exposure to poor or polluted air leads to the following short term symptoms:

  • Respiratory problems, including stuffy or runny nose or a cough.
  • Sore throat
  • Irritated eyes
  • Headache
  • Skin irritation

Often, these symptoms are attributed to outdoor allergens, a cold, or things like laundry detergent, when the real culprit is exposure to indoor air pollution.

Long-Term Exposure to Indoor Air Pollution

While short-term exposure often leads to short-term symptoms, continued exposure to certain types of indoor air pollution can lead to long-term or chronic health concerns including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and, in more extreme cases, certain cancers or heart disease.

Primary Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Indoor pollution and poor air quality primarily come from sources that release fumes or particles into the air. Often, these fumes and particles are exacerbated by a lack of ventilation, warm temperatures, and high humidity. The most common and problematic sources are:

  • Combustion sources, such as a furnace, gas space heater, or gas or wood-burning fireplace;
  • Tobacco products, including cigarette or cigar smoke;
  • Moisture, particularly moisture that has infiltrated insulation, carpet, or pressboard wood.
  • Household cleaning chemicals
  • Outdoor sources that enter through openings or even cracks in the walls and floors and don’t flow back out, such as radon.
  • Pet dander
  • Dust and dirt, especially when it’s cycling through your HVAC system.

How to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Now that you have a better understanding of why indoor air quality is so important and the factors that contribute to poor air quality, what can you do about it? First, let’s look at DIY solutions to improving your air quality:

  • Brushing pets outdoors and bathing them regularly to reduce dander.
  • Consider replacing an outdated furnace (that’s over 10-15 years old)
  • Have your ductwork cleaned to remove excess dust.
  • Vacuum carpeting daily.
  • Remove carpeting and upholstered furniture from damp areas, such as basements.
  • Install fans in your bathroom and kitchen to remove contaminants.
  • Avoid using propane or gas space heaters.

Whole Home Indoor Air Quality Solutions

While DIY solutions can help, especially getting rid of carpet or fabrics that may hold mold spores, a whole-home solution will lead to an overall healthier environment. Options include:

  • Air purifiers remove dust, bacteria, and mold from the air to improve indoor air quality.
  • Upgraded ventilation systems improve and increase clean air flowing through your home.
  • Dehumidifiers minimize the moisture that can cause mold, allergens, and mildew.
  • Humidifiers are best if your home is exceedingly dry. This can lead to inflamed sinuses and other respiratory problems if there isn’t enough moisture in the air.

Get a Free Quote for Home Air Filtration in Raleigh Today

If you are concerned about the air quality of your home, we can help. We have several whole-home air purifiers, ventilation systems, and more that can transform your home into a clean, healthy place to live. To learn more about indoor air quality service in Raleigh, give us a call at  919-772-2759 or fill out the form below to get started.

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Footnotes

  1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1987. The total exposure assessment methodology (TEAM) study: Summary and analysis. EPA/600/6-87/002a. Washington, DC.
  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1989. Report to Congress on indoor air quality: Volume 2. EPA/400/1-89/001C. Washington, DC.
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Introduction to Indoor Air Quality https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/introduction-indoor-air-quality