My first exposure to indoor air quality (IAQ) came when we were looking at houses in Danbury, CT, and our realtor recommended getting a radon test. Fortunately our house didn't have a problem but over the years, and a son with a mild case of asthma, I learned that indoor air quality isn't something we can take for granted.
Fortunately the US government is now helping us focus on this important topic, much like they've done with their Energy Star and Water Sense programs.
So here's a quick overview of the resources you can find on the EPA website, regarding Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). You'll see there are many different things that affect the quality of the air in our homes. Look for things you've missed in the past, to identify activities in your home that you'll want to manage in the future.
- Secondhand tobacco smoke.
- Radon which occurs naturally in many parts of the US.
- Moisture and mold problems, which are common in homes from water penetrating your house from outside, plumbing leaks or kids splashing too much water out of the bathtub.
- Remodeling your home can generate lots of dust, and other particles in the air. (Read: Lead Poisoning & Lead-Safe Rules from the EPA).
- Recognize the signs of inadequate ventilation — like stuffy air, moisture condensing on cold surfaces, and mildew or mold growth. This happens more as we button up our houses to make them more energy efficient. And it's not just paints that give off VOCs, lots of other furnishings from carpeting to bedding, give off unhealthy chemicals.
- Unusual weather can affect indoor air quality — flooding from hurricanes, excessive snow loads on roofs causing ice dams and roof leaks and more.
How Indoor Air Quality Affects Family Members
One of the most common health issue we have today is asthma, and there are other problems that might not be readily observed for years. You can pursue additional testing to identify what's harmful in your home's air, and you might benefit by starting with the recommendations from WebMD.com:
- Suck it up using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and mop up the dust that vacuuming leaves behind.
- Keep it out with mats at every door, to keep out what we track in with our shoes.
- Reduce moisture (around 30%-50%) to control allergens, using a dehumidfier in the winter, and air conditioner during hot summer months.
- Make your home a non-smoking zone.
- Test for radon.
- Stop using synthetic fragrances in laundry products and air fresheners, because they give off chemicals.