Indoor Air Quality: How What You Breathe Can Impact Your Health and Comfort
During the winter months, coughs and runny noses are pretty typical. Often, these ailments stem from invisible enemies within our homes and offices – poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Surprisingly, more than 80% of IAQ problems are due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or mold, which can be harmful to your health, causing symptoms from headaches and fatigue to sneezing and runny nose.
IAQ is the measure of the air quality within and around buildings, especially in relation to the health and comfort of its occupants. Controlling indoor pollutants like mold and VOCs is crucial. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outside air, making it a pressing concern during the winter when we spend most of our time indoors.
The Impact of Mold and VOCS
Mold and VOCs are prevalent sources of indoor air pollution. Mold can trigger respiratory issues and allergies, while VOCs—found in everyday items like paint, furniture, personal care and cleaning products and air fresheners—can lead to severe health conditions. Short-term exposure to these pollutants can cause symptoms like eye irritation and dizziness, while long-term exposure may lead to chronic diseases or cancer.
How can you reduce your exposure to Mold & VOCs
- Test for Mold and VOCs: It’s essential to identify the presence of these pollutants in your home. Professional IAQ assessments can reveal hidden mold and analyze over 70 common VOCs, offering a clear picture of your indoor air quality.
- Choose Low-VOC Products: Opt for safer cleaning and personal care products that don’t emit harmful chemicals.
- Control Moisture: Keep indoor humidity levels between 30-50% to prevent mold growth. Fix leaks and address condensation issues promptly.
- Improve Ventilation: Regularly open windows to allow fresh air in and reduce VOC concentrations, especially on days when outdoor pollution levels are low.
- Be Mindful During Renovations: Postpone activities like painting or installing new carpets to warmer months when you can ventilate your space more effectively.
- Use Air Purifiers: Air purifiers with carbon and HEPA filters can reduce the levels of particulate matter, including mold spores and VOCs.
- Maintain Your HVAC System: Ensure that your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are regularly serviced to filter and circulate air efficiently.
Indoor Air Quality Testing
Maintaining good IAQ is not a seasonal concern but a year-round commitment. By emphasizing the importance of regular testing and recognizing the considerable effects of mold and VOCs, you are taking an important step in IAQ management. This proactive approach is key to enhancing the health and comfort of your living or working spaces. Enlisting the expertise of independent professionals such as RTK can be instrumental. They offer comprehensive mold and VOC evaluations that identify specific issues, leading you toward a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment.