In Tampa, there is a growing interest among homeowners and business owners to see what they can do to make their homes and offices healthier and safer. Indoor air quality is at the top of the list of people’s concerns, especially when discussing minimizing the effect of viruses transmitted throughout the year. Although poor indoor air quality can make a person sick, some steps can be taken to reduce the impact of poor indoor air quality on a person’s health.
Factors That Impact Indoor Air Quality
Understanding how indoor air quality can affect a person’s health starts with knowing the factors that impact indoor air quality.
Airflow is one of the most significant factors that can determine indoor air quality. When there is proper ventilation, air can travel freely through the building, preventing the buildup of pollutants and bacteria. The air exchange rate (ACH) calculates the number of times the volume of air in the room is replaced with recirculated, manufactured, or outdoor air. A home or office with a low ACH has particles that linger and thrive, causing increased pollution rates and reducing the overall quality of the property’s indoor air. Taking steps to improve home ventilation is vital to maintaining good indoor air quality and protecting the home or office occupants’ health.
While there are things homeowners can do to change the amount of air circulating in their houses, little can be done to change the climate. It should not be surprising that outdoor air conditions would have an impact on indoor air quality. Even homes and commercial buildings with the best air insulation exchange some air with the environment outdoors. This is through ventilation systems, windows, and doors. If outdoor air quality is poor, it will make the air quality inside the home poor. In hotter climates, the air quality index is a lot higher. This means that during summer, lack of air movement, heat, rain, forest fires, and other pollutants worsen indoor and outdoor air quality.
Mold, fungi, and most bacterial organisms require damp environments to thrive. If your house or office has high indoor humidity, you may notice a reduction in air quality and a musty smell. Humidity is a term that describes the percentage of water vapor present in the air. As a general rule of thumb, the healthiest indoor air is air that has humidity levels under 50%. Once the humidity levels hit above 50%, they can negatively impact air quality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that indoor humidity levels be between 30% and 50% for the ideal indoor air quality index.
Synthetic Building Materials
Synthetic materials, commonly used in commercial buildings, residential buildings, and schools, can negatively impact air quality. Some older residential and commercial buildings have deteriorated asbestos insulation material. There may be lead paint chips, damp carpeting, and VOCs released by furniture and cleaning products.
How Poor Indoor Air Affects a Person’s Health
People who occupy residential or commercial buildings with poor indoor air may experience a variety of adverse health effects. These can include eye, nose, and throat irritation, fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. People who spend a lot of time in buildings with poor indoor air commonly have respiratory issues and heart disease. Some can even develop cancer.
There is a well-established link between common indoor air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, radon, particle pollution, and cancer. For example, radon is a human carcinogen. It is the number two cause of lung cancer. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas. If a person is exposed to it for a short amount of time indoors, it can be fatal.
Legionnaires disease, a type of pneumonia caused by a person being exposed to Legionella bacterium, is often linked to poor indoor air quality because of a poorly maintained HVAC system or plumbing system.
Other air pollutants, like dust mites, environmental tobacco smoke, pet dander, and particulate matter, can trigger asthma and lead to respiratory issues. Sick building syndrome is when multiple people inside a building get sick with the same symptoms, but the symptoms disappear or diminish once they leave the property. Individuals are increasingly attributing these symptoms to indoor air quality issues.
Researchers are examining the connection between indoor air quality and cognitive and emotional challenges. These include the link between poor indoor air and diminished student performance in the classroom and reduced employee performance in the workplace.
Why Is Poor Indoor Air Quality Worse Than Poor Outdoor Air Quality?
The primary reason poor indoor air quality is more dangerous than poor outdoor air quality is that the indoors is enclosed. This means that pollutants are trapped, and they cannot dissipate. Coupling that with the fact that many homes and commercial buildings do not have good or sufficient ventilation, the impact of poor indoor air quality is seen. Common indoor pollutants include volatile organic compounds, dust mites, spores, formaldehyde, and biological contaminants.
These pollutants come from several sources, including building materials, combustion appliances, cigarette smoke, and cleaning products. A person with allergies or asthma will be more susceptible to the adverse effects of poor indoor air quality. Additionally, elderly individuals and children are at increased risk. Exposure to toxic levels of pollutants, even for a short while, can lead to lingering health problems and, in some cases, death.
Symptoms of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality symptoms manifest as breathing difficulties, headaches, fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. Poor indoor air quality can cause various health issues from mild respiratory problems to severe conditions like cancer.
Everyone faces susceptibility to the dangers associated with poor indoor air quality. However, older individuals and infants face higher risks. Children, in particular, are more vulnerable due to their reduced ability to protect themselves and their ongoing physical development, altering how they process toxins compared to adults. Certain adults impacted by poor indoor air quality may develop adult-onset asthma, especially those belonging to vulnerable health populations. Teenagers and children with asthma or a predisposition to asthma symptoms are also at risk.
Elderly individuals are highly predisposed to respiratory issues due to their advanced years, rendering them vulnerable to diseases. Elderly individuals have been exposed to pollution and other environmental circumstances for decades by the time they reach their elderly years. Coupled with the natural aging process, this poses health challenges for them. Limited mobility confines them indoors. They end up spending extended periods in living rooms and bedrooms, consequently heightening the risk of acquiring health issues.
Enjoy Clean Air and Professional HVAC Service in Tampa
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Our services include indoor air quality, heat pump installation, annual inspections, ductless mini-split installation, and preseason preparation. We are proud of our incredible growth and our ability to be able to maintain an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Contact Air 24/7 Air Conditioning & Heating today and see why our professional service and attitude are so highly sought after.