Facts About Indoor Air Quality

There’s more to indoor air quality (IAQ) than meets the eye. Most air pollutants are too small for the eye to see. Indoor air quality is important for everyone, particularly for those suffering from asthma or allergies.

Surprisingly, EPA studies have shown that the air within the average home is 5 times more polluted than outside air. And it may be much worse—up to 100 times worse. EPA studies report that 96% of homes tested had at least one IAQ problem including high concentrations of bioaerosols like dust, mold spores, pet dander, pollen, and viruses; odors and gases from cooking; chemicals or gases (like formaldehyde) from furniture, carpets and cleaning or deodorizing products; or temperature and humidity problems.

Improving your indoor air quality starts with some common-sense measures: thorough cleaning and dusting throughout your home, including ductwork; avoiding chemical cleaners; vacuuming with a HEPA filter; removing clutter; taking shoes off at the door; washing sheets in hot water weekly; changing your filters monthly and making sure there are no pests like cockroaches or mice in your home. Don’t allow people to smoke in your home and if your pets like to be outdoors, so much the better!

If you have family members with allergies or asthma, consider adding air filtration, humidity control and/or outside air ventilation to your central heating and cooling system. Air filtration and cleaning systems remove particulates and include UV systems, electrostatic air cleaners, as well energy and heat recovery ventilators.

Proper ventilation includes not only fans and outdoor vents in the bathroom and kitchen, but may also require a central ventilation system to bring in outside air and reduce concentrations of pollutants because many new homes today are very well sealed, too well sealed without additional ventilation.

Indoor humidity should be about 30-50%. If it’s too high, mold and dust mite populations increase; too low and your mucus membranes may become irritated. Humidity is frequently up and down in the Portland area. That can be a problem for some. If humidity is a problem you may want to consider adding a central humidifier/dehumidifier system.