Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?
Poor air quality can be very harmful to human health, and can happen inside homes, workplaces and cars. It has been linked to heart and lung diseases, including asthma. By understanding what harmful substances are commonly found in the air at homes, schools, and offices, you can make the indoor air cleaner and reduce your family's risk of developing health problems from breathing unclean air.
Indoor air quality is impacted by common outdoor air pollutants in addition to the buildup of other chemicals, gases and particulates in the home. Common indoor air pollutants include carbon monoxide gas, radon gas, smoke, chemicals from smoking, use of vapor-based items, fragrances, pesticides, chemical-based household products, and lead dust. Breathing in air that has these substances has been connected with several health problems.
What affects indoor air quality?
Indoor pollution sources that release gasses or particles into the air are the main causes of poor indoor air quality. Poor ventilation of homes and buildings make indoor air quality worse by stopping fresh air from entering and diluting bad air. High temperatures and humidity can also concentrate some indoor air pollutants1. Some examples of indoor air pollutant sources include:
- Fuel-burning combustion appliances, such as gas stoves and wood-burning fireplaces
- Tobacco and other smoking products
- Old, crumbling building materials, such as asbestos-containing insulation
- Newly installed flooring, upholstery or carpet
- Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
- Candles and air fresheners
- Central heating and cooling systems and humidifiers
- Excess moisture
Who is at risk?
Housing-related dangers, such as poor indoor air quality cause a lot of harm to communities. Inadequate housing contributes to poor health which in turn leads to missed school and work days, lower quality of life, and financial hardship. This is especially true for older adults, children, people with disabilities and communities of color, who are disproportionately affected by poor housing conditions. Healthy indoor air is especially important for infants and toddlers who may spend most of their time at home.
Try these tips for healthier air inside:
- Don't smoke in your home, workplace or car.
- Have your heater, chimney, and any other gas appliance inspected and serviced every year.
- Make sure that your home and office have a way to bring outside air to the inside (ventilation). If there is a ventilation system, make sure it is working properly and filters are changed regularly.
- Install and maintain carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.
- Use appliances such as grills and generators outside, and only use them away from windows and doors.
- Test your house for radon.
- Take your shoes off when going inside your home.
- Make sure there are doormats by all the doors in your home and office building.