Major Contributing Factors That Affect Indoor Air Quality

Today, indoor air quality (IAQ) is an important environmental consideration. Because we spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors, we must do everything possible to improve the air we breathe. During the energy crisis of the ’70s, Americans began to tightly close their workplaces and homes in order to conserve energy resources. Currently, many families have both parents working, with less cleaning time in the home. Ventilation and cleanliness play important parts in maintaining good air quality; although, the indoor environment is impacted by many factors.

Among the factors that may impact the quality of the indoor air in your home is the air drawn from outside through an air conditioning unit. Other factors may be tobacco smoke, radon, and cooking odors, as well as renovating and redecorating products, such as wallpaper, furniture and cabinetry, carpet, paints, varnishes, particle board, wood finishes, caulking, and adhesives. There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. Additional items include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, and wood. Building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products. Included are products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies. Add central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution. Interior products in the home have the potential to impact the indoor air because they emit volatile organic compounds into the air. The quality of indoor air also involves cleaning materials, building materials, ducts transmitting heat and air conditioning, activities in the building, people, pets, and furnishings.

You must look at the whole picture. Cleaning products used in the home, as well as interior furnishings, should be low VOC (volatile organic compounds) emitters, with emissions, sometimes improperly called off-gassing, that dissipate quickly. Scientific studies have demonstrated that new carpet is one of the lowest emitters of VOCs into the indoor environment and that these emissions dissipate very quickly. The low-level VOC emissions and the harmless odor from new carpet dissipate within the first 48 to 72 hours after installation. Carpet has not posed any health problems for millions of users. Carpet is made primarily of the same innocuous materials found in clothing and other everyday fabrics; i.e., polyester, nylon, and olefin fibers, latex (synthetic rubber), and polypropylene (olefin) fabric backing.

There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.

The relative importance of any single source depends on how much of a given pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. In some cases, factors such as how old the source is and whether it is properly maintained are significant. For example, an improperly adjusted gas stove can emit significantly more carbon monoxide than one that is properly adjusted.

Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently. These include smoking, the use of un-vented or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces, or space heaters, the use of solvents in cleaning and hobby activities, the use of paint strippers in redecorating activities, and the use of cleaning products and pesticides in housekeeping. High pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods after some of these activities.

Common Factors That Affect IAQ:

People (exhalation, body odors, diseases)

Activities (work such as cleaning, using correction fluids, carbonless paper, pest control products, and personal activities such as wear fragrances and smoking)

Technology (photocopiers and laser printers)

Furnishings (furniture, draperies, floor coverings)

Finishes (paint, varnish, vinyl wall coverings)

Building materials (caulking compounds, adhesives, wood laminates)

Outdoor Air Quality

Inadequate or contaminated air handling units

Inadequate cleaning practices

Take a close look at this list. If you feel you are suffering from Inadequate Indoor Air Quality, you may find the remedy right here.

Here are some aditional sites that have quality information about air conditioning, a major contributor to better air quality…

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