What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?
The air we breathe day in and day out has a massive impact on our overall health and wellbeing. As such, experts constantly monitor smog levels and other types of air pollution. The results are used to generate an air quality health index that warns people to avoid outdoor activities when respiratory irritants are high.
If you're like most Canadians, though, you spend more time indoors than out. That's why we should pay the same amount of attention to the quality of air inside our homes and workplaces.
What is indoor air quality, exactly, and why is it so important? Read on to learn more.
What Is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a measure of pollutants, microbes, allergens, and other substances found within the air of a building. It's directly related to the health and comfort of people in and around the building, though its effects aren't always immediately obvious.
IAQ levels are measured with either continuous monitoring devices or periodic tests of air samples. Other supplementary methods, like infrared thermal imaging, can identify the presence of mold inside walls—a common contributor to poor IAQ.
Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Air coming in from outdoors is one source of indoor pollution, but most of the causes come from within. These include:
- Mold and microbial pathogens
- Particulate matter
- Carbon monoxide
- Carbon dioxide
- Smoke (from cigarettes, fireplaces, etc.)
- Volatile Chemicals
These substances can be found inside walls and ceilings, in paint and cleaning supplies, and even the soil your home is built on top of. Humans and pets also contribute to decreased IAQ by exhaling carbon dioxide and leaving behind dust and dander.
Effects of Bad Indoor Air Quality
Mild indoor pollution can keep you from feeling your best—but at its worst, it can be fatal.
Smoke, mold, dander, and cleaning chemicals can irritate your lungs and throat, making breathing difficult. This effect is compounded if you have a respiratory condition like environmental allergies or asthma. You may also experience headaches, nausea, fatigue, and a lack of productivity.
Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and radon are all colorless, odorless gases that can cause severe illness or death. Asbestos and lead are common materials found in old buildings that can poison you if you inhale their particles. While carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other volatile compounds cause symptoms right away, other contaminants can lead to cancer over time.
Why Is Indoor Air Quality Important?
Leaving your IAQ unchecked can put you at risk of many of the negative effects listed above. If someone in your home or business has a respiratory condition, it's even more essential to improve indoor air quality.
Changing out the filters in your HVAC and heating system and running a dehumidifier can help decrease irritants like mold and dander, as can using a specialized air filter. To take care of the more serious contaminants, though, you'll need to have your air quality professionally tested and treated.
Does the Quality of Your Air Need to Be Improved?
The quality of your air impacts every area of your life. Before you can get to work on improving your indoor air quality, though, you need to figure out where it currently stands.
If you live in the Ottawa area, we can help. Our experienced team can help identify problems with mold, microbial contamination, inadequate ventilation, and other contributing factors to poor air quality. Contact us online or give us a call to speak with an expert about your options for residential and commercial IAQ testing today.