The average person breathes over 23,000 times per day, consuming around 11,000 liters of air. For many people, a high percentage of that air comes from schools, businesses and homes. Indoor air quality is, therefore, an important consideration for business owners, families and teachers — anybody who owns or operates a building where people live or regularly visit.
When there’s an obvious issue with air quality—a strong odor, the presence of smoke, or a staleness that makes it difficult to breathe properly—people notice right away and the problem is addressed. Nobody can be expected to live or do business in rooms and buildings where breathing is difficult.
There are, however, ‘sneakier’ problems that aren’t so easy to detect. They can remain for years without being noticed, getting worse all the time, silently contributing to an array of health problems among visitors and occupants. Some of these problems can even affect furniture, electronics and other material goods.
So how do you steer clear of these scenarios? The first step is understanding what the most common air quality problems actually are, and what can be done to prevent them.
Mold is incredibly common. As a matter of fact, there’s no way to completely eliminate it from your indoor environment. Low levels of mold are normal—it’s the large-scale infestations that drastically affect air quality and cause mold-related health problems.
In order to live, mold needs three things: Oxygen, moisture, and a suitable surface on which to grow. One of its favorite surfaces is cellulose (i.e. paper) in dark and humid places, such as wallpaper in a dark room, paper-covered insulation behind the walls, or stacks of old newspapers in the basement.
Solution: If you suspect a substantial mold problem, enlisting an HVAC specialist help will ensure that the problem is properly addressed. Heavily infested building materials will need to be removed and replaced. In terms of prevention, moisture (and thus mold) can be reduced with dehumidifiers and quality air conditioners. Specially-placed UV lights are also highly-effective in stopping mold before it becomes a problem.
Dust, pollen and other allergens affect people in different ways. Someone with severe allergies or athsma could have a serious reaction to airborne allergens that enter the home
Solution: Practical measures can go a long way, from dusting regularly to choosing low-pile carpet or hardwood/tile flooring. Another common problem is low-quality or worn-out air filters. Always use small-particle or HEPA filters to block as many allergens as possible, and consult a qualified HVAC specialist for best results.
Many people who live in places with distinct seasons (such as New Jersey) notice how dry the air can get during the cold winter months. Humidifiers are often used to make the air more comfortable and prevent physical symptoms such as blocked sinuses or scratchy throat. On the other end of the spectrum, summers can get muggy and humid, creating a need for dehumidifiers to reduce the level of moisture in the air.
In either scenario, improper humidity control can lead to physical discomfort, as well as irreparable damage to material goods like wooden furniture and electronics.
Solution: Discuss your air humidity with an HVAC specialist, and arrange an on-site consultation when possible. There are a number of high-quality, high-efficiency appliances on the market that can keep humidity levels comfortable and controlled all year long.
4. Odors, condensation and other pollutants
When the air in your home or business is not properly ventilated, it can lead to a number of problems. Some are serious and some are downright annoying. In the winter time, windows can routinely fog or frost over when the indoor air is not properly ventilated to the outside, leading to condensation problems. In warmer months, lack of ventilation can allow mold to colonize and grow in humid areas of the building. And no matter the season, a lack of ventilation allows toxins, allergens and unwanted odors to hang around.
Solution: A quality air ventilator, when properly installed and maintained, keeps fresh air circulating in your home without compromising your heating and cooling systems. This allows you to continuously remove pollutants from the environment and keep the air fresh, without raising your heating and cooling costs.
We hope you’ve found this information useful, and we’re here to help you keep your air fresh and clean. If you have questions or comments about these or other air quality issues, please leave them in the box below. We’d love to hear from you!