9 Ways To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality

If like most homes in the US, your home relies on a standard HVAC system to regulate its indoor temperature, there is one important fact you are probably unaware of. You may not know that the air inside your home could be five times more polluted than the air outside your home. But how is that even possible? Aren’t HVAC systems meant to keep air pollutants out of the home? Yes, they are and they actually do. But the problem is that by creating what is known as a “building envelope,” HVAC systems actually work a little too efficiently.

The central idea of our heating/cooling systems is to create an outer shell that acts as a separator between the conditioned air inside a home and the unconditioned air outside it. Once the air is adequately cooled or warmed, the system works to keep air exchange between the two sides to a minimum.

By not permitting the air inside the home to escape or allowing the air outside to enter the home, the system can preserve the indoor temperature at the desired level. This system of climate control works perfectly to keep our homes comfortable but it also presents some problems.

Indoor Air Pollution (IAP) and HVAC systems

This leads to a buildup of pollutants within the home. Since there is limited air exchange between the inside and outside, any substances inside the home will be trapped and have nowhere to go. In time, they will accumulate until their concentration exceeds what can be found outside the home.This is why many homes have high levels of indoor air pollutants such as chemical fumes and vapors (VOCs); dust, pollen and allergens; toxic gases; mold and fungus; smoke, odors, bacteria, and viruses. This problem is so bad that the EPA considers indoor air pollution the number one pollution problem in the US. And the consequence of the problem is that a lot of people are exposed to the risk of respiratory diseases. Poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has been identified as a likely cause of allergic attacks, lung cancer, and asthma. Children are particularly at risk because they spend most of their time indoors.

How to improve IAQ in your home:

Now, that you know the problem, what can you do about it? What are the steps you can take to protect yourself and your family?

  1. Improve ventilation: Even if you removed all the pollutants in the home, you would still need better ventilation for a healthy environment. Simple ways to do this include proper venting to remove food odors and smoke, using exhaust fans to remove toxins and humid air, and installing fans to circulate the air.
  2. Maintain a cleaning schedule: Since some of the indoor air pollution problems are cleaning issues, cleaning the home on a schedule will help a lot. Dust, dust mites, mold, bacteria, and other biological agents can be removed by cleaning the home and this should be deep cleaning rather than routine cleaning.
  3. Use better cleaning and personal care products: Many of the cleaning and personal care products we use release gases that have adverse effects on our health. These may be VOCs or other gases. In general, you should avoid aerosols, fragrances, and products with questionable ingredients.
  4. Upgrade to a HEPA filter: The filters in your HVAC systems may remove large particles like pet dander and pollen, but miss the really small particles that are just as harmful. A HEPA or MERV 16 filter, on the other hand, will sift out the smallest particles from the air.
  5. Invest in an air purifier: In addition to replacing the filters in your HVAC systems, you may also look in the direction of buying air purifiers for your home. Air purifiers augment your HVAC system by catching germs, bacteria, viruses, and other pollutants that somehow escape the HVAC filters.
  6. Avoid the use of pesticides: Pesticides do more than kill pests, they harm humans, household pets, and wildlife. The use of pesticides should be avoided as much as possible. If you have to use pesticides, limit your use to organic pesticides. But if you must use non-organic pesticides, have a professional do it.
  7. Keep your home free of mold: Mold and high relative humidity are two problems that often occur together. By keeping the relative humidity low in those areas of your home that are most susceptible to mold, you can prevent mold growth and its associated indoor air pollution and health problems.
  8. Use green building materials and furniture: Common sources of harmful vapors in the home include furniture, paint, carpets, flooring and building materials, as well as, mattresses. All these may be manufactured using raw materials or processes that make them harmful. This is one more reason to prefer green products.
  9. Test the home for radon: Radon is a natural gas that sometimes occurs in the soil beneath a home. It can move upwards and seep into the home. In large concentrations, radon is harmful. If your area is susceptible to this problem, have the home tested for radon and get radon mitigation, if necessary.

There you have it! 9 easy ways to improve the indoor quality in your home.


Information provided by Markham Services Mold Inspection. Visit their website for more information on mold https://cfmoldinspect.com