The Importance of Indoor Air Quality
The Long and the Short of It
Ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat?” It’s even more true that you are what you breathe. With wildfires and other natural disasters resulting from global warming, COVID-19, and other concerns, the quality of the air in your home is more important to your family’s health than ever before. In fact, the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, estimates that 50% of all illnesses are caused by poor indoor air quality (IAQ).
Additionally, the EPA lists indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health, causing as many as 8.5 million deaths each year. Some pollutants that get into your home can have immediate, negative effects on your family’s health, while others may result in problems that show up months or years later, or after repeated, long-term exposure.
Short-term effects are usually immediate and treatable:
- Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
In addition, those with diseases like asthma may experience symptoms, or existing symptoms may worsen. Sometimes, factors like age and pre-existing conditions can affect a person’s response to such pollutants. An inadequate supply of outdoor air coming in can magnify these effects, as can certain heating, cooling, or humidity conditions indoors. In many cases, simply stopping exposure to the pollutants is the only required treatment. Other symptoms may need medical or pharmaceutical intervention.
Longer-term problems can include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, and can be severely debilitating or even fatal. The bad news is, it’s difficult to know what amounts and periods of exposure can cause these issues. The good news is, there are steps you can take to prevent them.
Where does it come from?
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that indoor air pollution can come from many sources, both internal and external to the home. Indoor pollutants can include, but are not limited to:
- Indoor use of tobacco products
- Household cleaning, maintenance, personal care, or hobby products
- Building materials and furnishings, including:
- Insulation that contains asbestos
- New flooring, carpet, or upholstery
- Furniture or cabinets made from certain pressed wood products.
- Improperly maintained central heat and air conditioning, and humidifiers
- Excess moisture in the home
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), also known as “off-gassing,” from furniture, carpeting, etc.
Outdoor sources of pollution can include:
- Outdoor air pollution
Some are more constant, while others occur here and there.
What You Can Do
Knowing the potential hazards and effects of indoor air pollutants and being aware of the indoor air quality in your home is the first step in taking control of what your family breathes. Beyond that, there are many options for providing clean, high-quality indoor air for the ones you love:
The easiest option for improving indoor air quality in your home is using high-performance air filters in your home’s HVAC systems. All American Heating is proud to supply Air Sponge filters. Air Sponge’s HealthSmart filters offer permanent filter frames that use a filtration material of your choice to close the gaps that occur between your system and average, disposable, cardboard filters. The gaps are the sites where allergens leak out and into your home’s air. Air Sponge filters are 600% more effective than disposable cardboard filters at capturing fine particles such as mold, bacteria, viruses, and fungi from within your heating system and keeping them from spreading through your home.
Another filtering option is Electronic Air Cleaners (EAC). These devices offer filtering that provides more than 500% greater surface area than standard filters and allows smaller particle removal without affecting airflow.
Harmful bacteria, dust particles, dust mites, pet dander, skin dander, pollen, and other airborne contaminants commonly make themselves at home in your house’s duct system – where it’s easiest for them to get into the air being pushed out by your heating and cooling system. Having your ductwork cleaned regularly by professionally-trained technicians who have and use the proper equipment is a good way to improve the indoor air quality in your home. It’s also very important to keep your dryer vent clean to avoid the most common cause of house fires.
You can take it a step further by having your ductwork sanitized. After the grime, fuzz, and nastiness are removed from your ducts, and while the system is still hooked up to the truck, sanitizer is applied to the ductwork with a fogging system that coats the entire interior of the duct system. This process disinfects and deodorizes your ducts, killing mildew and other fungi growing there. It also prevents bacterial, viral, and fungal growth for up to six months after being applied. There is no lingering scent, and the sanitizer is safe enough to use in hospitals.
Ideally, your ducts should be cleaned and sanitized twice a year.
Aeroseal® Duct Sealing from the Inside
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home loses up to 40% of its energy through cracks and leaks in your ductwork. And leaky cold air returns are a prime entry point for dust, allergens, and other airborne contaminants to enter your home’s airflow. Once you’ve had your ducts cleaned out and sanitized, it’s the perfect time to seal cracks and leaks in the ductwork to make sure the air coming from your heating system is only the purest.
Aeroseal is a state-of-the-art product that fills those cracks, holes, and breaks, which helps ensure your indoor air is cleaner, evens out hot and cold spots in your home, makes your heating system run more efficiently and last longer, and can even help reduce energy costs. All American Heating can install your Aeroseal duct seal in a few hours, and the work is guaranteed for life.
In addition to the everyday contaminants we need to be aware of, 2020 has certainly brought its own set of challenges, with wildfires occurring frequently in Colorado. Smoke from these wildfires can cause irritation and swelling in your lungs, affect your immune system, making you more prone to lung infections, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Creating better filtration in your home can help reduce the possibility of this occurring. You can accomplish this by installing a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV). These ventilators will help create better filtration in your home to improve indoor air quality without using outside air. All American Heating is happy to provide an estimate to install a ventilator to help filter the air in your home for your family’s health and well-being.
So far, we’ve talked about cleaning, sealing, and filtering the air to improve indoor air quality and help keep it clean. But humidity levels also play a major role in controlling and eliminating unhealthy airborne toxins. Uncontrolled humidity levels pose risks to the well-being of everyone in your home, and can also potentially cause damage to the structure, itself.
Whole-house humidifiers help make it easier to maintain proper humidity levels, as defined by the American Lung Association. They improve wellness by reducing dry air, which leads to dry, flaky skin, and static electric shocks, and promotes the growth of bacteria and viruses. Another benefit is that well-humidified air feels warmer, meaning you’ll use less energy to heat your home, letting your system run more efficiently, and potentially lowering your energy bills. Finally, keeping the humidity in your home at the right levels can help preserve your woodwork, artwork, musical instruments, and other important things.
UV Light Fixtures that reduce germs and bacteria have been in the news a lot lately and for good reason. All American Heating partners with Honeywell to provide systems that kill airborne pathogens and microorganisms like mold and bacteria. UC-V energy to emit short-wave, ultraviolet light that has been proven effective in environments like hospitals, pharmacies, and kitchens.
Options include return air duct models that kill germs before they can recirculate through your home; coil irradiation models that are mounted on the central cooling coils on home A/C systems, and use light to prevent mold growth; or a lamp-driven system that offers maximum performance and is specially designed for maximum safety. Let All American Heating help determine which system is right for your needs.
The Final Score
As we continue to find our way through a global pandemic and natural disasters that are increasing in both frequency and intensity, consider the role indoor air quality can play in maintaining the health and safety of your home and family. All American Heating is here to help – whether it’s just answering questions, scheduling any of the above services to help improve your IAQ, or to provide a complete Home Indoor Air Quality plan that will help guarantee the cleanest, safest air for you and your family.