Why Indoor Air Quality Matters to Your Family
Today we spend more time indoors – at work, gyms, and our own homes – than we do outside. Recent health restrictions have only increased our time in conditioned spaces.
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Stop and think: how clean is the air we breathe indoors?
A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the air quality inside the average home is five times worse (full of dander, pollen, dust mites, and other irritants) than the air outside! Keep your home and family healthy with air purification systems, installed by your trusted Horizon team.
What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Indoor air quality can be a major problem for homeowners but understanding and controlling common pollutants can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns.
Common examples of indoor pollutants include:
- Indoor dust and pet dander allergens
Dust mites are microscopic bugs that live in carpet, bedding, upholstery, stuffed toys, and bedding. These bugs are invisible to the human eye but can majorly impact health. This is especially true for those already at risk, like the young, elderly, or those with allergies or asthma. Relatively minor effects include coughing, wheezing, and discomfort. At the same time, more severe implications can require medication or even hospitalization.
Dander (dead skin cells sloughed off an animal’s coat) is the most common source of pet allergies. Pet dander clings to surfaces and makes its way into household cracks and crevices. Unfortunately, dander can linger for months in carpets, furniture, and even bedding! The result includes a variety of health issues for allergy sufferers. Frequent cleaning at home – including vacuuming, frequent bedding changes, and wiping down surfaces – helps keep these pollutants at bay. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to reduce dust and pet dander concentrations in your home. A HEPA filter can also eliminate other toxins, including lead.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are toxic airborne chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. Top sources of VOCs in the home include paints, aerosol sprays, and air fresheners, pesticides, dry-cleaned clothing, and cleansers. Once airborne, these particles pose short and long-term health effects. According to the EPA, VOCs often cause eye, nose, throat irritation, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
- Bacteria, Germs, and Viruses
Poor indoor air quality can increase the risk of spreading highly contagious viruses like the cold and flu. More severe viruses, such as Coronavirus (COVID-19), are also a threat. Viruses are microscopic pathogens that need hosts to thrive. Once a virus enters the body, it begins to hijack healthy cells and reproduce at a significant pace. Bacteria or germs thrive in enclosed spaces and spread quickly through the air. Most bacteria are harmless. However, some strains of bacteria produce toxins that can kill cells and damage the immune system.
Indoor air pollutants may cause serious health concerns, such as:
- Eye and skin irritations
- Allergic reactions
- Respiratory tract infections
The EPA states that indoor air is one of the top five environmental health risks of our time. In fact, indoor air has been found to contain up to 60 times more pollutants than outdoor air. A recent study by the American College of Allergist & Asthma states that polluted indoor air is the root cause of 40% – 50% of all illnesses.
How to Test the Air Quality in Your Home
Eliminating individual sources of pollution in the home can reduce indoor air pollutant concentrations and reduce emissions. Harmful pollutants may come from faulty appliance emissions, such as stoves or furnaces. Two out of three indoor air quality issues involve the poor performance and improper functioning of your HVAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) system. That’s why it’s crucial for a thoroughly trained technician to evaluate your home equipment annually.
Improving your indoor air quality can begin with tests for key pollutants known to impact health:
- Test for Lead
Homes built before 1978 can benefit from a lead test, as most indoor and outdoor paints were lead-based before that time. Lead dust brought in from outside sources may also affect air quality in newer homes. Lead dust can be especially detrimental to children’s health in the home and may damage the brain, central nervous system, and kidneys.Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to reduce concentrations of lead in your home. A HEPA filter can also eliminate toxins. The Environmental Protection Agency offers practical suggestions on how to make your home lead-safe.
- Test for Radon
Homeowners are encouraged to test for radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that typically moves up through the ground and into living spaces through cracks, gaps, or holes in the foundation. However, even airtight homes can potentially have it, and granite countertops have also been linked to radon. Radon gas is prevalent in Eastern and Central Pennsylvania due to uranium deposits in the rock strata. Uranium off-gases radon as a by-product of mining activities.The good news is that in-home radon testing is easy, reasonably inexpensive, and takes only a few minutes to complete.
A radon test is highly recommended, as radon is the second leading cause of cancer in the United States according to the American Lung Association. In some cases, radon testing is required by certain lending institutions before the transfer of a property.Rest assured that with proper remediation equipment, even high radon levels can be reduced to acceptable levels.Please go to https://www.city-data.com/radon-zones/ to see what the average radon levels are in your neighborhood.
- Test for Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as “The Silent Killer” in your home. Like radon, carbon monoxide is a toxic odorless, tasteless and colorless gas. A buildup of CO in the home can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or, in extreme cases, death. CO can come from any device that burns fuel such as your furnace, water heater, stove, and dryer if they are not in good working condition or have not been installed with proper ventilation.Symptoms of someone experiencing CO poisoning can range from shortness of breath, mild nausea, and mild headaches to dizziness, mental confusion, severe headaches, and even death.
Since carbon monoxide does not have characteristics such as odor to alert you, the best way to keep your family aware of unsafe levels is to install carbon monoxide detectors throughout the house. A carbon monoxide alarm constantly samples the air, monitors for the presence of CO, and sounds an alarm when CO is detected at dangerous levels. A Horizon technician can service your furnace annually to prevent problems, such as carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Test for Mold
Testing for mold spores in the air can be as simple as purchasing a mold test kit. Dust mites and mold love moisture. A healthy level of humidity at around 30%-50% will help keep your home free from mold and other allergens under control. Using a dehumidifier and air conditioner during the summer months will help reduce moisture in indoor air and effectively control allergens. An efficient air conditioner will also lower indoor pollen count. As a side note, modern high-efficiency central air conditioning systems have intelligent thermostats that tell fans to ramp up or down, depending on particular needs, thus controlling humidity levels better than ever. Make sure your leaky plumbing gets repaired to prevent mold. From small portable table-top air cleaners to whole-house systems, there are many tools to help make your IAQ healthier.
Indoor Air Quality Services to Improve Your Home Air Quality
There’s a wide array of risk factors that affect indoor air quality. Our certified and licensed HVAC technicians are extensively trained to assess poor air quality and offer customized options to restore the health of your home and the quality of your air. Adding air purification technologies, Lennox PureAir™ and Phenomenal Aire Cold Plasma Generator (CPG) to your HVAC system is the first step in evaluating and controlling your indoor air quality.
Combat Indoor Air Pollution with Lennox PureAir™ and Phenomenal Aire CPG
Lennox PureAir™ pairs the germ-killing power of UV light with MERV16 filtration, to eliminate odors, mold spores, and more from the air you breathe at home, but it doesn’t capture all airborne particles. Partnered with Phenomenal Aire’s lab-tested cold plasma technology, these devices provide powerful filtration to remove matter – including reducing 99.9%* of COVID-19 particles – from your home.
Our Air Filters, Humidifier Installation & Other Solutions Can Help You Feel Better
- UV lamps: These dramatically destroy and reduce potentially harmful contaminants
- Humidifiers and dehumidifiers: These work with your HVAC system to keep moisture levels balanced throughout your home
- Air filtration: These capture even the smallest contaminants and keep them from recirculating back into the home’s air
- Air purification: Contaminants are removed and destroyed before air is recirculated in the home
Here are additional resources to identify, correct, and prevent IAQ problems:
If you continue not feeling well, and have more dust and dirt in your home than you need, call us and make an appointment with one of our indoor air specialists. With our extensive training and experience, we can usually make recommendations with just an inspection of your home.
We also offer other HVAC services such as furnace repair, air conditioning installation, furnace replacement, and air conditioning repair. We use the latest tools to help determine the quality of your indoor air and can provide you with the products and services you need to improve your IAQ levels.
Let’s talk about the health of your air at home
Frequent coughing increased allergy issues, or frequent bouts of illness are the first sign the air quality in your home needs help. Noticeable dust and dirt in your home is another sign you need an IAQ plan! No matter what your indoor air quality challenge, call now for an indoor air quality assessment by Horizon Services.
* Based on the manufacturer’s independent lab analysis. This product does not guarantee against transmission of any specific pathogen, nor does its use take the place of practices that are recommended and should be followed by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. See https://www.cdc.gov for more information. Phenomenal Aire is provided by a third-party manufacturer and is unaffiliated with Horizon Services. Phenomenal Aire warranty is valid only with complete installation by Horizon Services. PA residents only, limited availability.
* * $1 per day estimate is based on an average financed the cost of the PureAir and Phenomenal Aire systems professionally installed. Financing provided by third-party lenders unaffiliated with Horizon, under terms and conditions arranged directly between the customer and such lender, all subject to credit requirements and satisfactory completion of finance documents. Any finance terms advertised are estimates only.
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What Is Indoor Air Quality?
“Indoor air quality,” or IAQ, is a relatively new topic in environmental safety. While a lot of attention has been placed on outdoor pollution over the past few decades, the focus on indoor air quality is just beginning. The quality of a home’s air mainly has to do with the amount of pollutants inside, but it’s also determined by humidity and ventilation levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that concentrations of pollutants can be up to 100 times higher indoors than outdoors. The American Lung Association estimates that most people spend 90% of their time indoors, so clean indoor air is very important.
How Can I Improve My Indoor Air Quality?
There are some basic strategies for outsmarting indoor air pollution:
The first step toward better indoor air is to identify the sources of air pollutants and remove as many as possible from your home. You can decrease the amount of dust and dirt in your home by cleaning and vacuuming at least once a week. You should also regularly wash bed linens and stuffed toys. If someone in your family is sensitive to fumes, you should safely store household products and use them only when necessary. If you need help determining if you have a problem with pollutants, contact your local Lennox dealer to evaluate your home and indoor comfort system.
Today’s modern homes are well-insulated and sealed to conserve energy, which means airborne pollutants have no way to escape. Healthy Climate® ventilation systems help remove allergy-aggravating particles and germs by exchanging stale, recirculated indoor air with fresh, filtered outside air.
Although cleaning and ventilating helps reduce indoor air pollutants, these simple fixes are not cure-alls. Some contaminants are so small that they may escape through the vacuum or never land on a surface. Healthy Climate® air cleaners and high-efficiency air filters capture even the smallest of particles and germs. Germicidal lights kill them. And a PureAir™ air purification system goes a step further; it removes particles, germs, and odors, and it destroys chemical vapors.
Improper humidity levels and high temperatures can actually increase concentrations of particles and germs. An icomfort Wi-Fi™ touchscreen thermostat or ComfortSense® programmable thermostat regulates moisture levels and temperatures to improve indoor air quality and enhance comfort.
What Are The Benefits of Clean Air?
Allergies and asthma are two health problems that can be helped with clean indoor air. When airborne irritants are removed, allergy and asthma sufferers often find relief from their symptoms. Even healthy people who have never suffered from allergies can benefit from clean air. Dust, smoke and other particles float around in the air, causing your drapes and furniture to gather dust. By removing airborne dust particles, you reduce the amount of exposure your respiratory system has to them.
Can Indoor Air Be Hazardous To My Health?
Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can be the cause of numerous health problems. Medical groups report that as many as half of all illnesses are caused or aggravated by indoor air pollution. Pollutants in your home’s air can cause dizziness, headaches and nausea, plus aggravate allergies and asthma.
Clean indoor air benefits everyone, even people who have never suffered from allergies. By removing airborne dust particles from the air, the amount of exposure the respiratory system has to them is greatly reduced.
Are all Indoor Allergens Harmful?
Allergens like pet dander, pollen and mold spores are included in the category of indoor air pollutants called “particles,” defined as any substance measuring less than 100 microns in diameter. (One micron equals 1/25,000 of an inch in diameter.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that small particles (less than 2.5 microns) are responsible for the health effects of greatest concern. That’s because these invisible contaminants can be inhaled deep into the lungs and move through the bloodstream.
If you or any of your family members have allergies, you could also do well by minimizing contact with chemicals, which are found in common household items like artificial air fresheners and bleach cleaners. Depending on the level present in your home, chemical fumes can prompt an allergic reaction, plus cause headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and respiratory problems.