Air pollution is most often associated with thick blankets of smog that come from major cities’ industrial activities, millions of gasoline-burning motor vehicles, and other environmental pollutants. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is a leading health concern. Here are answers to some common questions about indoor air quality to help you evaluate the quality of your indoor air.
What Is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality can be evaluated using metrics like humidity, the rate at which fresh outside air is welcomed inside, temperature, presence of known toxins like radon, and mold spore counts. The term itself, also called indoor environmental quality, refers to the quality of air inside personal residences, industrial buildings, and other structures. The condition of indoor air can affect your quality of life, performance in the workplace, and health.
What Causes Indoor Air Quality Issues?
Oftentimes, indoor air quality problems don’t come from any single issue. They usually result from a combination of problems, some of which stem from a lack of regular home maintenance. One of the most common causes of bad indoor air quality is a failure to maintain HVAC systems, including mistakes such as not changing air filters every three months, not checking for external air pollution sources near external HVAC units, and neglecting ductwork, which can accumulate substantial dust buildup.
A lack of fresh air is another common cause of poor air quality. Poor ventilation can also cause issues such as mold and mildew growth, which thrives in damp, stifled environments. High humidity levels and water leaks can cause poor air quality by fostering an environment that’s friendly to mold and mildew.
What Can Be Done to Boost Indoor Air Quality?
Although it might seem simple, one of the most powerful tools you have against worsening indoor environmental quality is ensuring your residence gets enough ventilation. On a daily basis, open several windows in your home. If you have exhaust fans, which are most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms, use them while showering, bathing, and cooking. Leave them on for at least an hour after bathing or cooking. A third powerful tool you can use to boost indoor air quality is by using free-standing dehumidifiers and fans that offer air filtration. Look for fans that use HEPA filters, which stands for high-efficiency particulate air filters. These are the highest-quality filters available to consumers.
What Can Residents of Apartment Complexes Do to Improve Air Quality?
Whether you live in a duplex or major apartment complex, you should carry out the suggestions above to improve air quality indoors. However, a unique issue that apartment complex residents face is the inability to make certain fixes on their own. Removing or relocating potential sources of pollution, such as dumpsters beneath industrial air intakes. removing blockages from air supply vents. or getting in the way of nearby industrial activities may cause you to be evicted, pay fines, or otherwise face unfavorable treatment from property managers or landlords. Informing fellow building residents of these issues and asking them to sign petitions or ask building owners to make the changes you request are the most appropriate measures to take in such situations.
Addressing Workplace Air Quality Issues
Even workers with debilitating respiratory issues are hesitant to bring indoor air quality suspicions to employers because, although prohibited by law, doing so could result in demotion, not getting promoted, termination, or other unfavorable treatment. Given you have a solid relationship with your supervisor or others in your workplace, ask your employer to check for water damage and to inspect its HVAC system. Report any symptoms known to have roots in long-term exposure to poor indoor air quality to your employer.
Also, you are legally protected under federal law to ask for a workplace inspection to determine if any safety issues exist, such as poor indoor air quality. You do not have to inform your employer that you made the request. Furthermore, you can tell OSHA not to inform your employer that you made the complaint.
Indoor air quality issues are quite common across the United States. If you’re experiencing serious health problems that may be linked to poor air quality, see a physician.
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