5 Reasons for Indoor Air Quality Concerns


There are many things that can affect indoor air quality (IAQ). Not every building has the same IAQ concerns, but knowing how indoor pollutants enter homes can help you eliminate them. 

The American Lung Association lists five ways that indoor pollutants can enter a building: 

1. The everyday actions of residents 

We spend a lot of time in our homes, so it’s no surprise that we affect the air quality! Every time someone enters the home, they bring particulates inside with them. These might include pollen, dust and dirt or even smoke and auto exhaust. Pets that go outside can also bring these in with them, and most pets have dander in their coats which gets into the air. Smoking indoors adds secondhand smoke into the air. 

Keeping the home clean by dusting and vacuuming can help remove these particulates, but some of the things we use to keep the home sparkling can also affect the air. Cleaning chemicals and pesticides can impact IAQ, along with paints and finishes, some fabrics and even many cosmetics. These can contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which turn into gases which can be harmful to inhale. 

2. Construction and maintenance 

Even a brand-new home can have IAQ issues! Paints, carpeting and plastics can all release VOCs. If possible, new carpeting or furniture should be taken out of the packaging in a well-ventilated area outside the home and rugs and carpet unrolled for 72 hours before bringing them into a home. 

In older buildings, lead paint and asbestos can be concerns. Dust from both of these products can cause serious health issues if inhaled. In both cases, if they are in good condition and undisturbed, leaving them in place may be the best option. However, once lead paint or asbestos become damaged, deteriorated or disturbed, they must be removed by a qualified professional. 

3. Combustion 

Two-thirds of American homes use combustion for heating, cooking, laundry or hot water.  

Wood-burning stoves or fireplaces are common sources of combustion-related IAQ concerns. However, natural gas or propane heaters, stoves and water heaters can also release harmful pollutants into the air. Carbon Monoxide, VOCs and particulates are common air pollutants from combustion. 

Keeping chimneys and vents clean and free of debris can help assure that smoke and other particles are removed from the home. Dirty chimneys are also a fire hazard, so make sure they are professionally cleaned periodically. 

4. Moisture 

Excess moisture can cause mold and mildew growth, which affect IAQ when released into the air. They can cause congestion, itchy or watery eyes, and coughing, especially for those with allergies or asthma. 

Flood or other water damage can cause mold growth, and so can improper ventilation. Bathrooms and laundry rooms are especially prone to moisture buildup. Dehumidifiers are one way to remove moisture from the air in homes, particularly in basements. Ceiling vents can help as well if they are vented to the outside, but in older homes, these may vent into an attic space instead, which simply moves the moisture problem from one area of the home to another.  

5. Outdoor sources 

Older homes are especially vulnerable to air quality problems from outdoor sources. If you live in an area that’s often affected by wildfires, smoke can enter the home anywhere air can get in. 

Another common pollutant is radon gas, which comes from the ground around a home. It can be a particular problem in homes with unsealed basements. Older homes may require a radon mitigation system. New buildings can have added radon protection included in the construction process, including layers of gravel and plastic beneath the foundation as well as vent pipes from the basement to the outside. 

Keeping the highest possible IAQ in your home involves knowing the sources of indoor air pollution and finding solutions to keep them from affecting your air and health.  

A balanced ventilation system can help offset common IAQ concerns. Balanced ventilation means that stale, damp air is mechanically extracted from areas like kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms and continuously replaced by fresh, filtered air delivered to living spaces and allowed to circulate naturally throughout the home.  

Zehnder ventilation systems offer continuous air exchange in a quiet, energy-efficient system while preserving heat, without producing excess draftiness in the home, meaning a more comfortable home and reduced energy bills.  

To request a quote, visit our website today and fill out the quote request form. One of our knowledgeable salespeople will create a custom quote for your project and help you get started on the journey to better air quality in your home.