It is obvious when you are outside and you see or smell smog, smoke, chemicals, or other ‘off’ or polluting smells. We all know that the quality of the air we breathe can have a dramatic effect on our health. However, we often feel safe inside, and forget that indoor air quality is just as important as outside air quality and that it can often give us a false sense of security that the air we breathe inside is always good quality. This is not necessarily true!
The effects indoor air pollutants can have on your body may be experienced both immediately or years later. How quickly the ill effects show up, and to what extent, depends on the duration of exposure, as well as sensitivity or allergic levels of the individual being exposed to the poor air quality. Some of the immediate effects of indoor air pollutants may include irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and many other health related issues. The degree of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors such as age, pre-existing medical conditions, and allergies.
Often times poor indoor air quality, and its effects may worsen due to an inadequate supply of outdoor air or from the heating, cooling, or humidity conditions in the home. It is also very possible that additional health effects due to poor indoor air quality may show up years after exposure has occurred. They may also only show up on a consistent basis after long or repeated periods of exposure. Some of these effects can be very serious. They can include issues such as respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer; many of which may be severely debilitating or fatal. It is important to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable. This includes having a properly ventilated home with a properly installed, quality heating and air conditioning system. It also means taking care of your cooling system and making sure it has clean filters and clean duct work. If poor air quality still exists, you should contact an HVAC professional and investigate adding an air purification system to your existing heating and cooling equipment.
A Few More Issues To Note About Indoor Air Quality.
While pollutants commonly found in indoor air are often responsible for many harmful health effects, there is a lot of uncertainty about what concentrations or periods of exposure are necessary to produce specific health problems. The fact that people also react very different to pollutant exposure, makes it even more difficult to determine the true effects of poor indoor air quality on a person’s health.
One thing that is certain, is that further research is needed to more completely understand which health effects occur after exposure to the average pollutant concentrations found in homes over a longer period of time, and which effects occur from the higher concentrations and shorter exposure duration. If you have determined that you may have air quality issues after discussing your health problems with your doctor or allergist, in addition to other steps needed to help improve air quality, you may want to have an inspection of your air conditioning system as well as having your duct-work inspected and cleaned.
Options to Improve Indoor Air Quality
There are many products on the market that filter air but most of these only remove the larger particles and fail to filter out the smallest and most damaging pollutants. You can start to improve your indoor air quality by upgrading your filter used with your heating and air conditioning system. Filters have a MERV (Minimum-Efficiency Reporting Value) rating and the higher the MERV, the better. It is highly recommended that you use a filter with a minimum of 11 or 12 MERV but upgrading to a MERV 16 can remove much smaller and higher percentages of pollutants, like bacteria and smoke particles.
The next step would be adding a whole-house air purification product to your HVAC system. There are many different variations of these air purifiers so contacting your local HVAC contractor is highly recommended. A knowledgeable contractor can inspect your home and recommend the best options for your situation.
Heating and air conditioning systems that are not correctly maintained can actually cause more problems for people with asthma and allergies. Well maintained HVAC systems that are used properly will not only keep you comfortable but will also help improve the air quality in your home. Call New Berlin Heating and Air Conditioning for an inspection today. We will ensure that your HVAC system is clean and operating efficiently so that it helps improve your air quality in addition to keeping you comfortable!