A Homeowner’s Handbook to Indoor Air Quality in Virginia Beach, VA

woman relaxing in home

In your daily life, you enjoy the comforts of your home in Virginia Beach, VA. There’s heating when it’s cold outside, cooling when it’s hot outside, and it protects you from bad weather. Another element your home should protect you from is outdoor air pollution, but what you may not realize is that your indoor air quality is just as important as the quality of your outdoor air, if not more so.

What Is Indoor Air Quality?

Air quality refers to the quality of the air that you breathe inside your home. Since, as the EPA notes, people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, poor air quality poses a health risk.

Indoor contaminants include cooking fumes, disinfectants and other common household products. Those who are most at risk of illness from poor air quality are the chronically ill, the elderly, young children, and those who have respiratory or cardiovascular issues.

How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect Health?

While your home may feel stuffy due to poor indoor air quality and lack of proper ventilation, poor air quality’s health effects are far greater than simple stuffiness. In some cases, health issues show up after a single exposure to contaminants.

Short-term symptoms include headaches, fatigue, dizziness and irritation of the eyes and throat. One clue that you may have an issue with your air quality is if these symptoms disappear shortly after leaving home.

Long-term effects of poor air quality in your home may include the development of cancer, heart disease, respiratory illnesses and other health problems. People react differently, so some may take longer to develop lasting health issues than others.

Sources of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Gases, home cleaning chemicals, air fresheners, and other particulates, combined with inadequate ventilation, are the main sources of air quality issues. Other causes are high humidity levels, high temperatures, pollen and pet dander.

Carbon monoxide is one such gas that not only causes fatigue and headaches but can also lead to death depending on the amount and length of exposure. Carbon monoxide and radon detectors, combined with proper ventilation, help keep your home safe and you and your household healthy.

Why Ventilation Is Important

Home ventilation is the exchange of outdoor and indoor air, which improves home air quality. Without proper ventilation for the house, harmful contaminants stay inside. Opening a window can bring in fresh air, and there are other ways to ventilate your home, such as exhaust fans.

While there is some natural ventilation from windows, doors and cracks in older houses, newer ones rely on whole-house ventilation. Newer homes need whole-house ventilators as they are tightly built, which reduces natural ventilation.

Solutions to Improve Indoor Air Quality

While opening the window to bring in the fresh air, weather permitting, is one way to improve indoor air quality briefly, that option is not always available. Bathrooms, laundry areas, and kitchens all have fans that exhaust air outdoors to remove contaminants from the home. Some HVAC systems don’t have ventilators that bring in fresh air from the outdoors, so you must add them for increased comfort and health.

Another solution is to regularly change your air filters and schedule regular appointments for maintenance and occasional duct cleaning.

Controlling the source of the emissions is one of the more cost-effective approaches. Controlling sources includes providing maintenance for gas stoves and heaters and sealing away asbestos.

What About at Work?

Your place of employment should already have solutions to improve indoor air quality. The lack of solutions to issues like pollutants and poor ventilation leads to sick building syndrome. Even if there are air quality solutions in place, another option would be to have air scrubbing plants, such as a jade plant or aloe vera, at your desk.

Don’t let poor indoor air quality steal your health or the health of your loved ones. Contact us at Climatemakers today to learn more about our indoor air quality solutions that help you breathe easier.

Image provided by iStock