We got into this discussion of indoor air quality (IAQ) last night at my relative's house. This particular relative of mine has not opened the windows of her house - for ages. This is so true. I would say more than 10 years! She may have opened the windows once in a blue moon. But that's about it. So, I am on a mission today to write something about IAQ.
What she didn't realize (until last night) is that poor ventilation can put her at immediate or long term health risks. The Surgeon General states that "Poor indoor air quality contributes to cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and other illnesses." According to EPA, one of the three ways to improve IAQ is through improved ventilation.
Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.
The other two ways to improve the quality of indoor air is 1) to eliminate the single source of pollution or to reduce their emission, and 2) using air cleaners.
The Office of Surgeon General has issued "Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes" on Tuesday which outline simple steps, for example, to check gas and appliances, fireplaces, chimneys, and furnaces yearly and change furnace and air conditioning filters regularly.
Here are some resources you can check into on creating healthy homes:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Environmental Protection Agency
- HUD Office of Healthy Homes
- American Lung Association
Or, the easiest way is to take this quick indoor air quality tour, courtesy of EPA, where you can go room-by-oom to learn the key pollutants and how to take care of them. (just click on the image below for the tour )
By the way, this is not going to be the last time (previous posts here and here) I'm writing about this topic, because interestingly EPA cited the fact that "five out of 10 Americans are not aware of this fact."