The Quality of Your Indoor Air

Evidence has shown that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air.  Several factors contribute to poor indoor air quality that can be easily controlled.  Follow these simple tips improve your indoor air.

Identify and Remove Pollutant Sources

The relative importance of any single source depends on how much of a given pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions are.  Educate yourself on the different types of biological, gas, or particulate pollutants that can potentially affect your indoor air quality and takes steps to remove them.  To have a greater understanding of potential indoor pollutants read “Understanding Indoor Air Pollutants“.

Improve Air Ventilation

If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems.  Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house.  When weather permits open windows to increase ventilation.  If you are intending to filter the outside air consider improving your heating and cooling system by having it modified to draw filtered outside air

Improve Filtration

There are many types and sizes of air filters and air cleaners on the market.   As air is circulated through a forced air ventilation system debris is trapped within the furnace filter. Use furnace filters with a MERV rating between 7 to 11, and change the filter every 2 months that the filter is in use.  If a standalone filtration device is used, use a device that has a high-circulation rate and highly efficient filter.

How Indoor Air Quality Affects People

The greatest difficulty in solving indoor air quality problems is that effects on people can vary.  One of a pollutant can have a completely different effect on two different people.  While pollutants found in indoor air can be responsible for many harmful effects, there is considerable uncertainty as to what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary cause specific health problems.

Immunocompromised Individuals

People who are immunocompromised have an immune system that is compromised or entirely absent.  Indoor air quality is of great concern to those who are immunuocomprimised, as their bodies are very vulnerable to opportunistic infections.


Some people can become sensitized to biological & chemical pollutants after repeated or high level exposures. Effects may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures.  Once sensitized to a pollutant, the individual can experience acute adverse reactions when they are exposed to that pollutant, even when the pollutant is at a lower level.

Age Makes a Difference

Children are sensitive to indoor air quality because they breathe faster than adults, inhaling up to 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults.  Elderly have a higher risk for cardiovascular, respiratory illness from fine particle pollutions.

Allergies & Asthma

Dust is a mixture of many substances. Its content may vary from home to home, but the most common allergy triggers such as mold spores, pollen, dust mites, can trigger allergy or asthma attacks.

Fortunately for most healthy people, the symptoms of air pollution exposure usually go away as soon as the air quality improves.  Good housekeeping and good maintenance of the heating and air conditioning equipment is the most important methods for controlling exposure to indoor air pollutants.

Understanding Indoor Air Pollutants

A host of different biological, gas, and particulate pollutants can affect the indoor air quality.  The types of contaminants and the amounts that are suspended in the air determine air quality.

Biological Air Pollutants

Biological pollutants are or were living organisms. While all of us are exposed to biological pollutants in one form or another, the effects on our health depend upon the type and amount of biological pollution and the individual person.  Two conditions are essential to support biological growth – nutrients and moisture.  Keeping an area clean and dry is the best method to prevent biological air pollutants.

Common biological air pollutants:

  • Pet Hair & Pet Dander
  • Mold
  • Dust Mites
  • Pollen
  • Cockroach parts

Chemical & Gas Air Pollutants

Chemical and gas pollutants are the most hazardous of all air pollutants as they are often odorless, tasteless and invisible.  Ensuring proper exhaust, using building products with low levels of volatile organic compounds, and prohibiting smoking indoors are the best methods for preventing chemical and gas air pollutants.

Common chemical & gas pollutants:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Radon
  • Smoke
  • Building Materials with volatile organic compounds

Particulate Air Pollutants

Particulate air pollutants are particulates that have the ability to become air born when disrupted. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller are of greatest concern because they can pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs.  Good house keeping and construction containment practices are the best methods for lowering particulate air pollutants.

Common particulate air pollutants:

  • Drywall
  • Fiberglass
  • Concrete
  • Carpet fibers
  • Sawdust