Sick House Syndrome: Indoor Air Quality Solutions & Stats
Is your house sick? “Sick building syndrome” (SBS) is a term used to describe health afflictions and comfort problems linked to poor indoor air quality. If you feel relief as soon as you step outdoors, you may have a bad case of SBS!
We’re going to show you how you can improve your indoor air quality for a healthier home and family. That means less lost work and school days, reduced allergies and coughing, and easier breathing. You breathe easy now. Well, maybe.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is 2-5 times as polluted as the outdoor air (and occasionally more than 100 times as polluted!). With this knowledge, you’d expect everyone to change their HVAC filters every month, dust and vacuum regularly, and generally pay more attention to the air inside their homes and work spaces. Surprisingly about 10% of Americans have never changed their air filter!
Continue reading for more information on indoor air quality and what you can do to improve it.
Indoor Air Quality Facts:
Indoor air pollutants are typically divided up into three groups:
Particulates are tiny particles that float around in your air, such as pet dander, skin flakes, dust, dust mites, smoke, pollen, ash, aerosol sprays, and can range from .001 to 1,000 microns (one millionth of a meter).
Hazardous gases, such as formaldehyde, chloroform, carbon monoxide, ammonia, benzene, and radon get released from paint, chemical sprays, cleaning products, combustion gases, insulation, and even from the soil beneath your home. Read the EPA’s Citizen’s Guide to Radon to learn how test your home for radon.
Germs, bacteria, mold, fungi, bacteria, and viruses are microscopic and thrive in moist and unclean environments. They enter your home in a variety of ways. Many illnesses are caused by the germs and other microbials in your home.
Consult this image to learn more about the indoor air pollutants that could be residing in your home:
Indoor Air Quality Statistics
- The average American spends 90% of their times indoors.
- Indoor air pollutants are 2-5 times higher than outdoor pollutant levels.
- An ounce of dust can carry 40,000 dust mites.
- Poor indoor air quality is #4 biggest environmental threat in the U.S.
- Poor indoor air quality has been linked to diabetes, asthma, allergies, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, weight gain, respiratory infections, and more.
- The average person inhales over 3,500 gallons of air each day.
- 26 million Americans have asthma (over 7 million are children).
- Radon causes about 14,000 deaths a year in the U.S. (ranges from 7,000 to 30,000).
Poor Indoor Air Quality Signs
- You just had a recent home renovation, construction, or major change in your insulation.
- Coughing, sneezing, headaches, and other symptoms occur shortly after entering your home or business.
- You can see dust and other particles in the air.
- There’s moisture condensation on cold surfaces.
- The air feels stuffy.
- You notice mold or mildew growth.
- You and other inhabitants are experiencing similar symptoms.
- Symptoms include headaches, trouble concentrating, fatigue, asthma, dry eyes, respiratory irritation, and allergies.
DIY: How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
- Use this buying guide when shopping for non-toxic cleaning products.
- Use this buying guide for low VOC (volatile organic compound) building materials.
- Talk to your HVAC Indoor Air Quality specialist about home ventilation systems, air purifiers, and duct cleaning and sealing.
- Ban smoking from your home.
- Fix any leaks in and around your home. Control dampness to prevent mold and mildew.
- Vacuum and dust your home regularly to get rid of dust and pet fur.
- As soon as you notice mold, clean it with soap and water or a mixture of 1 cup bleach with 1 gallon of water.
- Remember to check your air filter every 30 days and wait no longer than 90 days to clean or replace it.
- Open windows and run HVAC/ventilation systems to bring in fresh air.
- Don’t use bug spray indoors.
- If you think you are getting sick from poor indoor air quality, call you doctor and then call your favorite HVAC company for permanent IAQ solutions.
- If you smell gas, don’t light anything, have everyone evacuate the building and call the National Gas Emergency Service at 0800-111-999 or call 911.
Pro: Indoor Air Quality Solutions
It’s essential that if you have an indoor air quality problem and are getting sick as a result, you should address the underlying problem. Call a professional to run a full diagnosis of your home’s insulation, ventilation, and indoor air quality. These are some of the solutions that may be recommended:
A humidification system is often built into your HVAC system. It helps to prevent over-dry or over-moist air by adding or removing moisture. If you air is too moist or too dry, indoor air quality will suffer. Professionals agree that moisture levels in the home should be between 35% and 50%. You can measure the humidification levels in your home using a hygrometer.
Duct Cleaning & Sealing
One of the best ways you can improve the indoor air quality in your home is to inspect and clean your air ducts. If you have never cleaned the inside of your air duct, now may be a great time to do so.
You may be able to fix your IAQ problem by installing a home ventilation system, changing your air filter, and cleaning regularly, however, when that’s not enough, an air cleaning/purifying device might be just what you need.
Air cleaners are able to reduce the harmful indoor air pollutants in your home. Before you buy an air purifier or cleaner, speak with a professional to make sure it is sized correctly.
There are two main air cleaners available: mechanical filters and electrostatic cleaners that trap electrically charged particles. Although there are many options to choose from, we recommend using Air Scrubber Plus® by Activtek Environmental.
This is the time to call Pacific Air Systems at (253) 292-3995 or schedule service online to improve your indoor air quality before winter hits and we begin sealing off our homes.
For more information, consult this list of Indoor Air Quality Resources.
Read our other blog articles for more information on maintaining a safe and efficient home and HVAC system:
- National Furnace Tune-Up Month: Fall Maintenance
- HVAC FAQ
- Outdoor Home Maintenance Checklist
- Why Is My A/C Unit Leaking
Call Pacific Air Systems Heating & Cooling for professional indoor air quality solutions, including Air Scrubber Plus. You can reach us 24/7 at 253.292.3995!
Since 1984, we’ve been proudly serving our communities in Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor.