Indoor air quality is a facet of health that often goes unnoticed, but it should be a primary concern of building and energy professionals. It impacts the structural integrity of buildings and the health and well-being of occupants. Here are 10 concrete steps for enhancing indoor air quality.
The Importance of Improving Indoor Air Quality
Air pollution claims an alarming 10 million lives each year. While much attention is devoted to outdoor air quality, recognizing indoor air quality is equally crucial. Indoor environments can harbor pollutants at levels often higher than outdoors. This is mainly due to confined spaces, lack of ventilation and the pollutant sources within buildings.
Poor indoor air quality is significant in deteriorating human health. It has been linked to various ailments ranging from allergies and fatigue to severe health conditions like heart disease and cancer. Moreover, polluted indoor air can cause headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath.
Enhancing indoor air quality is paramount for mitigating health risks and creating a more energetic environment.
1. Maintain Cleanliness
Maintaining cleanliness is the foundation of improving indoor air quality. Regular cleaning eliminates dust, pollen and other particles that accumulate over time. When disturbed, these particles become airborne and impact the air quality. That is why routine cleaning, vacuuming and dusting are essential to limit the levels of these irritants.
2. Install an Industrial Fan
An industrial fan is a powerful tool for enhancing indoor air quality. These fans ensure proper ventilation by circulating a large volume of air, specifically more than 100,000 cubic feet per minute. This rapid air movement dilutes indoor pollutants and reduces stagnant zones, significantly improving i quality.
Additionally, industrial fans aid in temperature control, creating a more comfortable indoor environment while indirectly reducing reliance on HVAC systems, which can harbor and distribute pollutants if improperly maintained.
3. Limit the Use of Air Fresheners and Scented Candles
Despite the pleasing aromas of air fresheners and candles, these items frequently contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When released into the air, VOCs contribute to indoor air pollution and cause adverse health effects.
Consider opting for more natural alternatives, such as essential oil diffusers. These can reduce VOC concentrations and lead to an overall healthier indoor environment.
4. Promote Natural Ventilation
Open windows and doors to enable the indoor air to flow outdoors and bring more fresh air in to dilute indoor pollutants effectively. This simple practice significantly improves indoor air quality by reducing the concentration of harmful pollutants and refreshing the indoor air environment. It’s a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution to maintain a healthy indoor atmosphere, provided the outdoor air quality is sufficient.
5. Opt for Low-VOC or VOC-Free Products
Many cleaning products, paints and furnishings contain VOCs that can pollute the indoor air, negatively affecting its quality. By choosing low-VOC or VOC-free alternatives, you can significantly reduce the intensity of these harmful pollutants, creating a healthier environment for occupants.
6. Regularly Change or Clean HVAC Filters
Regular changing or cleaning of HVAC filters is crucial as these filters are vital in trapping pollutants. Yet, they can reduce system efficiency and contribute to poor indoor air quality when clogged. For optimal air quality, filters should typically be replaced or cleaned every 50 days, especially if the occupant suffers from allergies or respiratory conditions.
7. Control Indoor Humidity Levels
Humidity supports the growth of mold and mildew, impacting air quality and health. Keeping indoor humidity levels between 40% and 60% can mitigate this issue. Dehumidifiers, proper ventilation and moisture-resistant materials effectively maintain ideal humidity levels.
8. Invest in Indoor Plants
Besides adding aesthetic value, plants can improve air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and certain toxins and releasing oxygen. Some plants, like the spider or snake plant, can even absorb harmful pollutants like formaldehyde — making them a green addition to indoor air quality strategies.
9. Regularly Inspect and Clean Air Ducts
Air ducts are integral in circulating air throughout a building but can accumulate dust, mold and other pollutants over time. When these contaminants are dispersed into the indoor environment, they can negatively affect air quality. Regular inspection and professional cleaning of ducts ensure they function efficiently.
10. Avoid Smoking Indoors
Second-hand smoke is laden with harmful chemicals, significantly degrading indoor air quality and posing serious health risks. Eliminating indoor smoking improves air quality and reduces exposure to harmful carcinogens.
Gaining a Breath of Fresh Air
These steps in enhancing indoor air quality offer practical and effective strategies. Their implementation can mitigate health risks, boost well-being and foster productivity. However, improving indoor air is more than a one-time effort — it is a continuous pursuit. Ensure these changes are in effect to ensure a healthier, safer, and more sustainable living environment for all.