We are all familiar with the concerns of outdoor air pollution when it comes to automobile emissions, toxic chemical vapors and other pollutants such as carbon monoxide. However, many people spend the majority of their time inside of their home. What many people don’t realize is that the air in your home is polluted as well and it is just as important to take the necessary steps to ensure your home has fresh, clean air for your family to breathe. At times, the air inside of a home can even be more polluted than the air outside.
The Clean Air Act is a law defining the responsibilities of the Environmental Protection Agency pertaining to the protection and improvement of the nation's quality of air as well as the stratospheric ozone layer. The EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the six most common air pollutants. The six air pollutants are listed as: Ozone, Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides, Sulfur Dioxide and Lead.
Many Americans suffer from allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. It is important for those who suffer from these types of problems to know their options when it comes to the indoor air quality of their home. In some cases, it is common for people who suffer from allergies to notice a decrease in the need for allergy medicine after having a UV light/air purifier in their home. There are several things that a homeowner can do to improve the overall quality of the air in their home. Each different technique will provide different results, therefore, a combination is usually recommended for the best outcome.
10 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality:
# 1 Air Scrubbers/Dehumidifiers
When used properly, air scrubbers/dehumidifiers cleanse the air and remove odors, particulates and pollutants.
# 2 Coil Cleaning
Air conditioning coils tend to build up debris such as dirt, dust, hair, pet dander and even soot from candles and other air contaminates. It is important to keep in mind that you are breathing in the debris that you see on you coil, which decreases the quality of air in your home. Coil cleaning is essential to the efficiency of the system (electric bill) and helps to prevent costly repairs, extends the life of the system and cools the home propey. It is recommended that coils be cleaned twice per year to maintain energy efficiency, clean, cold air and to prevent damage to the system. Cleaning coils improperly can cause damage to the “fins” of the coil resulting in unnecessary problems and repairs.
# 3 Duct Cleaning
Over time, duct work accumulates dust and debris just as a dryer vent hose does. The difference is that air in your home is contaminated by the dust in your duct work and you are breathing it. Combined with a media/electronic filter, duct cleaning is a wonderful way to drastically improve the quality of air in your home. With proper sanitization, cleaning the ducts in your home/office will help provide a clean, safe, hypoallergenic environment via the air conditioning system.
# 4 Duct Sealing
A big source of dust in the average home is from the ducts not being sealed properly. There is a gap between the drywall and the vent that allows dust and other contaminants as well as unconditioned air to escape from the attic into the home.
# 5 Electronic/Media Air Filters - With a few different options available, there are pros and cons to each type and model of filters.
# 6 Filters - When using regular, non-reusable filters, replace them regularly to prevent a restriction on the system and improve the air in the home. Check your filter regularly--even if it says it is good for 90 days, change/clean it when needed. Filters protect the valuable components of the air conditioning system which can be costly to replace.
# 7 House Plants - Plants such as the Peace Lily provide plenty of oxygen while removing a vast amount of pollutants from the air. They are recommended because of their easy care requirements and the fact that they are one of the most efficient house plants for removing pollutants and toxins such as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene from the air.
# 8 Ionizers - Used in combination with a media/electronic air filter and/or an ultraviolet light, ionizers can assist in maintaining the optimal indoor air quality. Available at local retailers and through a/c companies, ionizers can be an inexpensive, low-maintenance option that is recommended for tenants and other temporary uses.
# 9 Polyurethane Spray Foam Insulation (Icynene, Alpine Foam, Tiger Foam) - Classified as an air barrier material, spray foam insulation such as Icynene is the recommended alternative to traditional fiberglass insulation due to several reasons. Spray foam insulation thoroughly penetrates small cracks and holes where traditional forms of insulation would not reach, making it the most energy efficient insulation on the market. Unlike traditional types of insulation, spray foam does not contain fiberglass, minimizing dust and resulting in much better indoor air quality. Spray foam insulation can be applied to the walls and ceilings of attics, leaving attic floors/trusses exposed and in turn creating a safer, more comfortable place to work as well as more area for storage. Due to the nature of the insulation, it reduces the transfer of unwanted sounds from room to room.
# 10 UV Lights - Not only do UV Lights help prevent mold from growing in the coil of your air conditioning unit, but they also help kill viruses and germs as the air circulates around the bulb(s). Hospitals, daycares, restaurants and other sterile facilities have been using UV Lights to maintain a germ-free environment for years. It has since become available to the public and homeowners have been utilizing them for the same purposes. This is a low-maintenance accessory that only needs to be replaced once a year, which makes it and affordable option.
Additional I.A.Q. Improvement Suggestions
Eliminate or reduce the use of:
- Aerosols (They may be convenient, but some can be more harmful than helpful)
- Candles, Air Fresheners, Scented Products (They may smell pretty, but we were not meant to breathe all of those chemicals!)
- Cleaning Products (There are some natural options available now that are recommended)
- Check your filter regularly--even if it says it is good for 90 days, change it when needed. Filters protect the valuable components of the air conditioning system which can be costly to replace.
As a certified and licensed mold assessor & mold remediator, we perform indoor air quality tests by taking samples of the air inside of your home or office and comparing it to that of the air outdoors. From the air sample(s) the lab is able to determine what substances are present in the air, if any, and how much per cubic meter is present. Once the samples are analyzed, we are able to determine if there are elevated levels of microbial growth present as well as the level of toxicity.
There are a several different ways to test for mold in a building. Air sampling is the preferred method for determining exactly what and how much of each type of contaminates may be present in the air of a building. However, depending upon the circumstances, other methods are used such as swab tests.
Mold Assessment is the process of locating the affected area(s), identifying the problem(s) associated with the cause and determining the level of hazard present. Once the assessment/testing is completed, the remediation begins.
Depending upon the circumstances, there are many different techniques and procedures. Much of the time, the affected item(s)/area(s) are removed and replaced. It is important to follow the protocol for proper remediation in order to prevent further contamination due to the migration of mold spores.
Certified Mold Remediator & Assessor - Florida Association of Mold Inspectors