Did you know? Outdoor Air Is 2 to 5 Times Cleaner Than The Air In Our Homes, Schools and Offices
Contrary to popular belief, many of our allergies and respiratory sensitivities are caused by the air that we breathe indoors, rather than outdoors. This is partly because of the materials, products and activities that are used inside every day, and partly because of the lack of proper ventilation. Many people are surprised to know that the air indoors is 2 to 5 times more polluted than the outdoors. This number can even jump to 100 times if the environment is contaminated by mold, asbestos or other hazardous substances.
72% Of Chemical Exposure Happens In Our Homes
While it may seem like we spend quite a lot of time outside (and for some people perhaps that is true), the perception is not always accurate. When we add up the hours spent at school or work and at home sleeping it becomes evident that the amount of time spent indoors is much higher than that spent outdoors. On average, people spend a total of 90% of their time in some sort of building, and it is estimated that up to 72% of one’s chemical exposure actually comes right from their home. These statistics are quite alarming when you consider the fact that indoor air pollution receives a small percentage of media coverage and attention compared to outdoor pollution.
What Causes Poor Indoor Air Quality?
The buildings that we tend to spend the most time in unfortunately do not usually have a system that allows clean, outdoor air in. Instead, these sealed buildings rely on energy-efficient ventilation systems that continuously recirculate the same air that has already been cooled or heated. While cost-effective, this negatively impacts our respiratory systems.
Particulates include dust and dirt particles, allergens and other airborne aggravators. These harmful particles can come from building materials and furnishings, as well as the dirt and dust that is tracked in from the outdoors. These airborne particles can be limited through the use of strategically placed floor mats and frequent furnace filter replacements.
Arguably the biggest source of indoor pollution, airborne chemicals emit thousands of volatile organic compounds that are extremely harmful and can cause or contribute to a number of health problems. These chemicals come from many of the products that we use in our homes and offices, as well as furnishings and building materials.
Mold is a growing problem that is often underestimated by homeowners and property managers alike. The costs associated with repairing water damage and remediating mold can grow very high, and because of this it has become common practice to dismiss these problems and ignore the health effects. But it is important to note that mold also emits volatile organic compounds and if left untreated, can lead to serious and, in some cases, irreversible respiratory and neurological problems.
What Can You Do To Improve Indoor Air Quality?
Keep Pollutants Out
While it may seem obvious, the first step to ensuring a healthy indoor environment is to ensure that no harmful products or materials are brought into the building. This includes furniture that has been stained or sealed with products that are high-VOC and ensuring that any water damage is taken care of before mold has the chance to take over.
Select “GREENGUARD Certified” Products
The best way to ensure that no harmful products or materials are brought into your home is to select brands that are certified by GREENGUARD. These brands undergo a stringent testing product that identifies more than ten thousand volatile chemicals found typically found in furniture and other house-hold or office products. GREENGUARD certification means that there have little to no chemical emissions.
Keep HVAC Systems Clean & Efficient
If you’re concerned about the quality of air in your home, school or office, one of the most important things you can do is to ensure that your furnace filter is regularly changed and (if applicable) your ducts are cleaned on a yearly basis. Your heating system collects dust and allergens throughout the course of its lifetime and this unclean air cycles through your home and can aggravate allergies or respiratory sensitivities. To prevent this, call a furnace cleaning expert to inspect your furnace and ensure that it is cycling only the cleanest air possible.