Indoor air quality is gaining more traction as government agencies keep studying the effects of pollution on the population’s health. San Antonio, TX, has a three-year average outdoor air quality score of 72 as of 2018. This puts us in the moderate category, which is better than being in the 0-50 bracket. The moderate bracket means the air has some pollutants that are harmful to some groups.
Given the state of the outdoor air, indoor air quality becomes more important. If you need help assessing your home’s indoor air quality, our team at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating in San Antonio is available. Here is what the US Environmental Protection Agency says about indoor air quality.
San Antonio and Air Quality
The leadership of the city of San Antonio has been following the recommendations, studies, and information disseminated by the EPA. This is an American city that is booming. The expectation is that by 2040, there will be an additional 1 million residents living in this region. When the population grows in an area, the amount of pollution grows with it.
A concern for this city is controlling the amount of pollution without federal interference. Once an agency like the EPA gets involved, regulations follow, which makes the cost of doing business higher. So, residents are asked to be mindful of their pollution contribution to the local environment. Then, to control its potential and permanent effects on your health, keep your indoor air quality healthy at all times, too.
What Is Indoor Air Quality?
For the EPA, indoor air quality refers to the quality of air found in homes, buildings, workplaces, and schools. There are several reasons why indoor air quality is important to the EPA. The agency has found that the public spends about 90% of their time indoors, and indoors the concentration of pollutants is two to five times higher. So, while there may be pollution outside, you are actually breathing more of it in while you are in your home, at work, or school.
There are groups who are more prone to the negative effects of indoor air pollution, such as the elderly, very young, and those with existing respiratory issues. So, they have to be more mindful of the air they are breathing. Then, there is everyone else who may develop respiratory issues or allergies to indoor air pollutants if they are exposed consistently over a long period of time.
Why Is Indoor Air Quality Suffering?
As homes and buildings are being built to be more energy efficient, indoor air quality is suffering. The newest real estate additions are energy efficient because they are so well-sealed. This is great for energy use and costs, but it is not great for airing out stale air. That stale air contains particles and other pollutants, and if the ventilation is sub-par, they can easily sit and live on surfaces.
Today, there are also additional sources inside homes and buildings contributing to the declining quality of indoor air. These include cleaning products, personal care products, and furnishings.
Sources of Pollutants
The most common indoor air pollutants are:
- Combustion by-products like carbon monoxide and tobacco smoke
- Substances of natural origin such as radon and pet dander
- Biological agents like mold
- Pesticides, lead, and asbestos
You can see that there is no way to escape indoor air pollutants 100%. If they do not get in from the outside, they are going to be created in your home by yourself, your household members, or your pet.
Radon, for example, is created in the dirt under the foundation of your house when the weather gets warm. If there is a crack in the foundation of your home, the substance, which is a gas, can leak through those cracks and crevices. Radon is hazardous to your health.
Effects on Human Health
If you or a member of your household develops allergies or respiratory issues after spending a lot of time inside, it is one indication that your home’s indoor air quality is suffering. Typical symptoms include:
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Fatigue, dizziness, and headache
- Respiratory issues like shortness of breath
- Sinus congestion
- Coughing and sneezing
In the worst-case scenario, continued exposure to pollutants and related particles can lead to cancer or heart disease. Radon is known to cause cancer while it is well-documented that asbestos leads to damage to the lungs or Mesothelioma.
Since the elderly tend to have a compromised immune system, they are less able to fight off the effects of poor indoor air pollution. Therefore, they should be kept safe at all times. Children must be kept safe, too, because their immune systems are still developing. If a child is prone to asthma, for example, asthma will develop when there is continued exposure to triggers. Children who breathe in better quality air may never experience asthma because it remains dormant.
Importance of Effective Ventilation
There are several indoor air quality solutions that you can complete yourself. Then, there are those that require the skills of professionals. The importance of solid indoor ventilation cannot be overstated.
Your home’s HVAC system has three components. Two are heating and cooling. The third is ventilation. Airing out your home is almost a Catch-22, but it has to be done. Simply pick out the optimal times of the day to do so. For example, figure out the time of the day when the pollen count is the highest and keep your windows closed at that time. When the pollen is floating around less, that is when you can open your windows. You are also encouraged to open your windows when you cook and clean.
What You Can Do
Additional indoor air quality strategies include:
- Keeping your home and car smoke-free
- Controlling indoor moisture to prevent the growth of mold
- Installing carbon monoxide alarms
Regular HVAC maintenance is a great way to ensure the system is operating as the manufacturer intended. This is the time when potential ventilation opportunities are spotted. You can also use add-on items that help maximize your home’s HVAC system. Ceiling fans are wonderful for ventilation purposes. They are energy efficient and cost effective, too.
Indoor Air Quality Solutions
You can also use more heavy-duty solutions such as:
- Air purifiers
- Purification systems
- UV lights
Several of these solutions are professional-grade. This means that you are encouraged to speak with a local HVAC company like ours before getting started. We assess your home’s current indoor air quality level. Then, we take into consideration your concerns. If there are household members that are prone to respiratory issues, that is worked into the plan. Homes that have a central-HVAC system have ducts installed, too. Therefore, a good duct cleaning is going to be necessary every so often. Then, your home may be a good candidate for a whole-home solution.
One of our specialties is indoor air quality, so call us at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating to schedule an appointment in San Antonio. We also offer duct cleaning as well as heating and cooling repair, maintenance, and installation services.