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The Importance of Indoor Air Quality During the Winter Months

According to the EPA, indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality in and around buildings and structures inhabited by people and how the air impacts their health and comfort. Indoor air quality is very important because we are spending so much time indoors as the weather gets colder outdoors. Also, the changes in daily life resulting from pandemic orders have pushed many more people indoors. These additional hours spent inside your home are intended to protect you from illness and help you remain healthy. However, your home could be harming your respiratory health if you aren’t focusing on indoor air purification and quality control. By working to understand the common indoor pollutants and actively combating them, you can reduce the risk of health concerns from poor air quality.

3 Reasons You Should Care About Your Indoor Air Quality

  1. Exposure to Pollutants: You could be unknowingly breathing in harmful pollutants, which could compromise your good health and leave you vulnerable to illness. Many biological pollutants can unknowingly wreak havoc on your immune system. In addition to causing illness, some of these pollutants are toxic in large amounts and can even lead to death.
  1. Upper Respiratory Distress: During the winter months, it’s easy for your mucous membranes to become dry from the cold winter air. Dry mucous membranes can cause respiratory distress and illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, and even nosebleeds. The IAQ in your home can worsen your respiratory distress and lead to longer bouts of illness. Poor air quality can also make it difficult to recover. Many Americans suffer from asthma, which is a chronic illness directly linked to poor indoor air quality. In extreme cases, poor air quality can cause severe or chronic illnesses if not treated immediately.
  1. Increased Expenses: Many homeowners are shocked when they realize IAQ impacts both their personal and financial health. The HVAC system in your home becomes inefficient when it circulates and works to filter polluted and contaminated air. Biological contaminants, the same ones harmful to your health, are also harmful to your heating and cooling unit's long-term operation. Your system could be exposed to additional wear and tear, resulting in a shortened lifespan and additional costs.

Poor IAQ and Common Indoor Air Pollutants

The quality of the air we breathe is vital to our continued good health. If we breathe in pollutants and particles found indoors from smoke fumes, dust, and pets, we could be putting unnecessary strain on our respiratory system. Many homeowners don’t realize the benefits of observing and regulating their living space’s indoor air quality standards. High-quality indoor air is important for your personal and financial health.

  • Smoke – A common indoor air pollutant, secondhand smoke, is an extremely dangerous toxin and a known carcinogen. This pollutant is a known risk to nearly everyone, but it is especially harmful to children, asthmatics, and anyone with a compromised respiratory system.
  • Radon – A leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, radon, is an extremely dangerous gas pollutant. This harmful gas can seep into your home through cracks and faulty sealings.
  • Fire Byproducts – The gases and odors released from a burning fire, including nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, are harmful to humans and pets. If a fire-burning appliance isn’t properly vented, it can emit these gases into the breathable air in a room.
  • Carbon monoxide – Carbon monoxide poisoning can lead to death in large amounts. It can also lead to a myriad of other negative effects, like headaches, dizziness, and nausea in small amounts. Because carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, it is an insidious pollutant. This poisonous gas is nearly impossible to detect without specialized equipment.
  • Nitrogen dioxide – Like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide is also odorless and colorless. It causes immediate respiratory distress and long-term upper respiratory infections. Nitrogen dioxide exposure can lead to shortness of breath, dizziness, ear infections, and inflammation of the mucous membranes.

What Can You Do?

With so many hours spent inside your home or office, the indoor air quality of these spaces is critical to your continued good health. There are many invisible chemicals, pollutants, and gases in the air that can irritate your allergies and make you feel ill. Everything from eye irritation to chronic headaches can be linked to breathing poor quality air. You can improve the IAQ in your home by making a few simple changes.

  1. Air Filter Quality – By selecting a higher quality air filter, you can improve your HVAC system's operation. A high-quality filter will prevent larger amounts of dust and particulates from entering your ductwork, thereby improving the IAQ in your home and the efficiency of your HVAC system.
  1. Humidifiers & Dehumidifiers – Centralized humidity control devices can help you regulate your home's moisture seasonally, which will improve IAQ and respiratory health.
  1. In-Duct Air Purification System – Installing a centralized air purification system within your ductwork neutralizes contaminants and purifies the air in your home. This form of whole-home air purification is a large-scale solution that can greatly improve IAQ.

Are you concerned about the IAQ in your home? Contact the team at American Air Heating & Cooling at (618) 243-7591 for more information about air purification services and products.