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Everything You Need to Know About IAQ

indoor air quality
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is a term given to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, particularly as it relates to and affects the health and comfort of the occupants. IAQ can have both immediate and long-term effects on your health and for this reason it is important to know how to improve it.

Causes
Poor Indoor Air Quality can be caused by one or more of the following:

  • the indoor air environment i.e. inadequate temperatures, excessive humidity, poor lighting etc.
  • indoor air contaminants such as chemicals, dusts, molds, bacteria, gases, vapors, odors etc.
  • insufficient intake of outdoor air

Short-Term Effects
Sometimes you may feel an immediate reaction after entering a space with poor air quality. You might experience irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, coughing, sneezing, dizziness, and fatigue. These symptoms can be treated quite easily, sometimes by just removing the source or reason for the poor IAQ. Short-term exposure to poor IAQ can also aggravate symptoms of diseases such as asthma.

Whether or not you will experience immediate symptoms varies from person to person and is dependent on several factors such as sensitivity to allergens, age, pre-existing medical conditions, and the like. Some people become sensitized to pollutants after repeatedly being exposed to high levels of such pollutants.

Certain symptoms are quite similar to those from colds or other viral diseases. It is therefore important to take note of the time and place the symptoms started appearing and whether they fade once you leave a certain space in order to determine whether or not it is in fact the poor IAQ which is to blame.

Long-Term Effects
Sometimes health problems only show up after long periods of exposure to poor IAQ. These include certain respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer. It is clear that the long-term consequences of poor IAQ can be serious, if not fatal. You should therefore always make an effort to improve the IAQ even if short-term symptoms are not noticeable.

Steps to Improve IAQ

  • Keep your home/office clean: This can be done in various ways. Step one would be vacuuming. By making use of a vacuum with a HEPA filter, you can rid your home or office of toxins and allergens such as pollen and dust mites. In order to ensure that you remove anything that may have been left behind by vacuuming, you can also mop the floors. Another useful thing to do is to put a doormat at every entrance to reduce the amount of dirt and pollutants that make it indoors.
  • Keep the humidity at a healthy level: As dust mites and mold are attracted to moisture, it helps to keep the humidity in your home/office between 30%-50%. This can be done by using a dehumidifier or an AC.
  • Do not smoke indoors: This is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a good IAQ since cigarette smoke contains more than 4000 chemicals and is responsible for the development of various serious diseases.
  • Give synthetic fragrances a skip: Air fresheners, including those contained in laundry products and kitchen cleaners, contains dozens of chemicals which can also pollute your indoor air, despite them smelling so good. Rather switch to fragrance-free or naturally-scented laundry products as well as cleaners which don’t contain artificial fragrances. In order to make your home smell nice you can make use of fresh air or indoor plants instead.
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