Creating An Air Quality Plan In A Family Household
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is essential for a healthy household environment. However, as modern buildings have become more energy-efficient, they have also become more airtight, thus increasing the potential for poor air quality. It was discovered that people who work in well-ventilated homes have significantly higher cognitive function scores.
Apart from reduced cognitive abilities, poor air quality in a household can cause more serious symptoms such as allergic reactions, physical fatigue, headaches, and eye, skin problems, nausea, and throat irritation. Some pollutants include volatile organic compounds (VOC), combustion by-products, and airborne particulate matter.
Controlling indoor air quality involves three main strategies. First, manage the sources of pollutants, isolate them from people through physical barriers, and control the timing of their use. Second, reduce pollutants and remove them from the building through ventilation. Third, use filtration to clean the air of pollutants. Below are some steps that can be taken to improve air quality in the household.
Daily household housekeeping
A clean home has reduced levels of mold, dust, allergens, and contaminants that could spread through the air. Switching to eco-friendly cleaning products that do not release harsh chemical compounds into the air is recommended.
Have an air-cleaning device
Having equipment accessible, such as air scrubbers, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers are a great way to keep our IAQ (indoor air quality) at good levels and prevent the need to hire professionals.
Change filters regularly
HVAC systems should be cleaned regularly. Replace the filters to prevent dust and other air pollutants from circulating back to indoor air. Clogged filters can interrupt airflow and speed up the build-up of pollutants in enclosed spaces.
Ensure proper ventilation
Whenever possible, turn off HVAC systems and open the windows to allow outdoor air to enter the building. Placing furniture, storage boxes, chairs, or cabinets in front air vents will disrupt air circulation, causing the workplace to feel stuffy. Indoor plants are also a great addition. They can help promote air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air.
Conduct regular air sampling tests and inspections
Performing indoor air testing will provide data to make the IAQ improvement plan directed and efficient. Regular inspections and hazard assessments are needed. Air quality tests include checking humidity levels, airflow, ventilation, mold growth, odors, and water damage.
Biological contaminants can consist of bacteria, viruses, fungi (mold), dust mite allergen, animal dander, fibers and fiberglass, pollen. This usually results from inadequate maintenance and housekeeping.
Households have many volatile organic compounds (VOCs), they include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Chemical pollutants can include tobacco smoke, emissions from products used in the building accidental spill of chemicals, and gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are products of combustion, proper isolation and ventilation is key. The implementation of exhaust fans in our home has helped tremendously.
No one is permitted to smoke indoors, as it creates smoke and toxins which are harmful to people’s health. There is a designated area for smokers, it is outside and away from the building.
Our home location influences the type and amount of indoor pollutants. Dust and other construction material by-products may circulate through the building’s ventilation system.
What is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally when the uranium in soil and rock breaks down. It is invisible, odorless, and tasteless. When radon is released from the ground into the outdoor air, it is diluted and is not a concern. However, in enclosed spaces like homes, it can accumulate to high levels. High radon levels can be a risk to the health of you and your family!!
What are the Health Effects of Radon?
When radon gas is inhaled into the lungs it decays into radioactive particles that release small bursts of energy. This energy is absorbed by nearby lung tissue, damaging the lung cells. When cells are damaged, they have the potential to result in cancer when they reproduce.
Radon exposure is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Exposure to high levels of radon in indoor air results in an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The risk of cancer depends on the level of radon and how long a person is exposed to those levels.
Exposure to radon and tobacco use together can significantly increase your risk of lung cancer. For example, if you are a lifelong smoker your risk of getting lung cancer is 1 in 10. If you add long term exposure to a high level of radon, your risk becomes 1 in 3. As a non-smoker, your lifetime lung cancer risk at the same high radon level is 1 in 20.
How can Radon get into my Home?
Radon gas moves through the ground and escapes outside or into buildings.
Radon can enter a home any place it finds an opening where the house is in contact with the ground: cracks in foundation walls and floor slabs, construction joints, gaps around service pipes, support posts, window casements, floor drains, sumps or cavities inside walls.
All hazardous materials must be stored following the applicable laws and legislation not allowing fumes or any particulate in the air. Asbestos was a popular material for insulation and fireproofing for many years, so it can found in a variety of our materials like vinyl floor tiles, and bitumen roofing materials. All ACM (asbestos-containing materials) are marked and visible. Asbestos does not pose a threat unless disturbed.
Temperature, humidity, and air movement can contribute to a general feeling of discomfort. Poor indoor air quality can increase the risk of many health problems, from respiratory illnesses to infections. It can even compromise your mental health.
It is important to understand the things you can do to promote the IAQ in your home. These include keeping your place clean, maintaining your ventilation system, changing filters regularly, and conducting regular air tests.
Tranter, M. (2004). 10. In Occupational hygiene and risk management. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
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