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Traditionally, Air Pollution and Air Quality are concerns we associate with the environment outside our homes. However, today, with the improvements made in insulation and home construction, our homes are more prone than ever to indoor pollution. Modern home are “airtight” meaning that pollutants don’t escape easily anymore. The American Lung Association tells us that most families spend 60-90% of their time indoors, making this a bigger concern than ever before. Additionally, ALA lists lung disease, which is affected by air pollution, as the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) warns that that poor indoor air quality is one of the top 5 environmental concerns pertaining to public health.
Does all this dust affect my HVAC system?
It can! In studies done by the EPA, 1 millimeter of dust on the cooling coil can reduce HVAC efficiency by 21%. The Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service’s findings show that 90% of HVAC failures are due to dust and dirt collection, in some part of the system. Dirt collecting on the condenser unit outside can also reduce efficiency, and feed the problem of indoor dust and dirt.
How can I improve the air quality in my home?
Regular dusting, mopping, vacuuming and sweeping makes a big difference. As well, keeping the filters in your vacuum clean, making sure you have door mats at every entrance can help trap particles for easier removal. A deeper clean, such as carpet steaming, HVAC duct cleaning, upholstery cleaning, and washing the drapes regularly, can all help. The filter in your HVAC system can also make a big difference! The ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, AC Engineers) has found that the average fiberglass filter only catches about 7% of the particles that passes through. Proper use of an electrostatic filter can help with this. It ionically charges the particles, trapping them in the filter. These filters help reduce household costs and landfill waste, as well as dust, since they are washed, rather than replaced!
What is indoor pollution?
Indoor air pollution can have many sources, according to WebMD: “The air inside your home may be polluted by lead (in house dust), formaldehyde, fire-retardants, radon, even volatile chemicals from fragrances used in conventional cleaners.” Additionally, our pets and family members collect and shed pollen from our skins, as well as dead skins cells. All this collects on the floors, upholstery, and especially in the air ducts of your home’s HVAC system. Man-made materials can off-gas fumes from the chemicals used in the production of the materials and dyes, and older homes may include lead paint.
What does indoor pollution mean for my family?
According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, children are most at risk to suffer from effects of indoor pollution. They are closer to the ground where concentrations of contaminants are highest, and they breathe faster, inhaling more contaminants, compared their body mass, than adults. Additionally, the DCA states that the elderly, folks with allergy issues and/or respiratory problems are at equal risk to suffer from contaminated indoor air.