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Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) simply means the air quality within and around buildings, especially pertaining to the health and comfort of inhabitants.
Understanding and controlling common pollutants indoors can help you reduce your risk of indoor air pollution and its resultant impact on your health. That is why, in today’s edition of #SolutionMonday, we will be taking a look at ways you can improve your home’s indoor air quality.
There are three basic strategies to improve indoor air quality but we will be focusing on two that are proven to be safe and effective:
- Source control
- Improved ventilation
Usually, the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions.
Some sources, like those that contain asbestos, can be sealed or enclosed; others, like gas stoves, can be adjusted to decrease the number of emissions. In many cases, source control is also a more cost-efficient approach to protecting indoor air quality than increasing ventilation because increasing ventilation can increase energy costs.
For most indoor air quality problems in the home, source control is the most effective solution.
Another approach to lowering the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your home is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming indoors.
Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans (when the weather permits), or running a window air conditioner with the vent control open increases the indoor ventilation rate.
Ventilation and shading can help control indoor temperatures. Ventilation also helps remove or dilute indoor airborne pollutants coming from indoor sources. This reduces the level of contaminants and improves indoor air quality (IAQ). Carefully evaluate using ventilation to reduce indoor air pollutants where there may be outdoor sources of pollutants, such as smoke or refuse, nearby.
It is particularly important to take as many of these steps as possible while you are involved in short-term activities that can generate high levels of pollutants — for example, painting, paint stripping, heating with kerosene heaters, cooking, or engaging in maintenance and hobby activities such as welding, soldering, or sanding. You might also choose to do some of these activities outdoors if you can and if weather permits.
The introduction of outdoor air is one important factor in promoting good air quality. Air may enter a home in several different ways, including:
- Through natural ventilation, such as through windows and doors
- Through mechanical means, such as through outdoor air intakes associated with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system
- Through infiltration, a process by which outdoor air flows into the house through openings, joints and cracks in walls, floors and ceilings, and around windows and doors.
Infiltration occurs in all homes to some extent.
Natural ventilation allows air movement through open windows and doors, and if used properly, can at times help moderate the indoor air temperature which may become too hot in homes without air-conditioning systems or when power outages or brownouts limit or make the use of air conditioning impossible.
Natural ventilation can also improve indoor air quality by reducing pollutants that are indoors. Natural ventilation can be achieved by opening windows and doors, and window shading such as closing the blinds.