Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Explained
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Self-explanatory in nature, indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the specific quality of the air both inside and outside of buildings. IAQ measures the level of pollutants present in the air, with the aim of targeting potential hazards and determining solutions for improvement. Potential pollutants include but are not limited to particulate matter like smoke, fumes, and dust, organic growth, carbon monoxide, radon, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The condition for these pollutants can be affected by a variety of factors including air flow, humidity, and temperature, which are also factored into the IAQ.
Why is it important?
The importance of identifying and controlling your IAQ is essential to your health and well being. Low exposure to harmful substances may cause acute illnesses that dissipate with time. However, long term exposure can cause chronic illness or even exacerbate existing illness. Additionally, poor IAQ can affect productivity; better air quality provides a healthier work environment and more efficient brain function. Most importantly, IAQ is within your control!
What can pollute my air?
To understand indoor air quality better, it helps to know what can pollute your air. Most known pollutants include bacterial growth like mould and fungi which exist in conditional environments dependent on temperature, humidity and moisture. Other potential pollutants like asbestos and lead can be pre-existing in building materials and are often not harmful unless disturbed. Less known pollutants include formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and VOCs which can be found on a range of household items from furniture to cleaning products.
When should I test?
Where there is concern, testing can provide peace of mind. Properties undergoing construction may require testing prior to demolition to ensure the control of any harmful pollutants like asbestos, lead, mercury, and silica. Additionally, post-construction testing is sometimes considered to ensure total removal of harmful pollutants has been achieved. Commercial properties or public spaces shared by multiple individuals should consider testing to provide healthier and more controlled environments for those who access those spaces. Individuals with compromised immune systems may also consider having their homes or offices tested to become more informed about the environments where they spend most of their time. Families with children may also consider testing their homes to become more informed and limit exposure.
How can I test?
Get It Inspected offers one hour walk-through testing services with lab results available typically within a week and 24 hour results available with a fee. During this kind of testing, specific areas of your home or office are tested for 10-15 minutes at a time which is then compared with an outdoor control sample to determine the specifics of all environments. For those who want to monitor their IAQ more regularly, high-precision electronic monitoring equipment is available. The data on these devices tend to be static, showing you conditions at the time rather than a log of environmental changes.
What can I do beyond testing?
After you get your IAQ tested for a finite answer of what exists in your air around you, there are solutions to improve your air quality. One crucial step is to ensure you change your furnace filters at the recommended intervals. Typical filters need to be changed every season, even in the warmer months.
To increase your air quality further, you may consider adding an air purifier to the most affected rooms. Specifically, air purifiers with HEPA filters are best for removing particulate matter as well as filter out VOCs. The size of your air purifier is important as each unit is built to operate best in a certain sized room.
When it comes to VOCs, you may try to eliminate these from your home by identifying the specific pollutant and determining where it originated. Common VOCs include paint varnishes, upholstery or carpeting, cosmetics, and cleaning products. Household Product Databases available online will help you identify specific products which may or may not be contributing to a poor IAQ. Additionally, be wary of products and their company and location of manufacture as different companies and countries have a wide range of standards for their products. Not all products are made equal.
In commercial spaces where poor IAQ is of concern, decreasing worker density can help improve air quality and improve worker productivity. Additionally, increased ventilation will always help improve air quality simply by bringing in fresh air. In areas where outside air is of concern, there are architectural designs for entryways that can limit the amount of pollutants that enter a building.
Visit www.getitiinspected.ca for more information. Or call 905-397-3272 to book an Indoor Air Quality test today! Servicing Niagara, Halton, and Peel Region!