From Mari DeSchryver: My Experience With IAQ
Before being a summer intern at General Filters Inc., I had the slimmest amount of knowledge about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) possible without knowing nothing. My experience with IAQ extended to a room feeling stuffy and opening a window for some fresh air. I had no idea all the ways harmful particles can get into the air in my house, at college, or in an office setting. I didn’t think about all the ways I could prevent air pollutants such as fumes, dust, or mold from polluting the air I breathe.
My perspective on indoor air quality has been completely changed from not knowing or caring about the importance of it, to learning about just how important it is. I learned about all the simple, daily things we do that effect air quality, and I was surprised by how many there were that I would not have considered. Harmful airborne pollutants include particulates, VOC’s, germs, bacteria, viruses, and more. Some perhaps readily-known particulates are pet dander, dust, dirt, pollen, and fumes from cleaning supplies. But there are some we do not think about as much about such as burning a candle. Anytime anything is burning in a space, it is giving off smoke particles as well as chemicals from the candle itself. A gas stove is another example of something we might not ordinarily think of as being potentially dangerous to be around. The gas burning to power the stove gives off fumes that we then inhale while it is running.
Something as simple as hair sprays create pollutants, as they emit harmful VOC’s that are released into the air while being sprayed. New furniture that has been treated to be flame retardant can give off chemicals such as toxic formaldehyde. Opening a window for fresh air can be helpful, but pollutants may be allowed inside, such as car exhaust, dust, lawn fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals and airborne debris. There are so many things that we just don’t consciously think of in our spaces that effect our health and quality of life.
These toxic particulates can be a threat to our health because airborne pollutants infiltrate our lungs, irritate our throat and eyes, and represent a host of health concerns. Cold symptoms such as headaches, itchy or runny noses, or a scratchy throat can all be signs your IAQ is low needs attention. If you have a chronic condition, such as asthma or allergies, the quality of the air you breathe is essential to a long and healthy life. Studies show that airborne pollutants can even become life threatening.
A good way to start improving your air quality is to identify pollution sources. More examples of indoor and outdoor pollutants can be found on General Filters website, which is linked at the bottom of the page. After you identify where pollutants are coming from, I learned that figuring out how to minimize or eliminate them is the next best step.
I learned that humidity control and air cleanliness is extremely important to IAQ. Having the correct humidity in your indoor space eliminates irritation from dry air as well as deterring pests and mold from growing in unwanted places. Having the ideal humidity percentage, which I found out is 40-60%, is also what is most comfortable no matter the season. Having the best humidity levels can be achieved by having humidifiers and dehumidifiers set up for your whole house. Having just a small one for a room is ineffective in improving your home or offices overall IAQ. General Filters humidifiers and dehumidifiers are designed to improve overall whole house air quality while being quiet and out of sight. Check out General Filters website for more information about products and services.
Eye-opening is the word I would use to describe my experience learning in depth about indoor air quality through my time spent at General Filters. I learned that there is so much to discover about air quality and that is worth knowing because it is what we breathe all day, every day. Besides, it’s not like breathing is optional.