The average American spends upwards of 90% of their day indoors. This is a shocking statistic that will make most people pause. You may want to head straight outside to try to bring your outdoor time up to 11%, but it’s worth your while to keep reading and consider how you can make your indoor environment healthy and enriching as it has a surprisingly large impact on our health, wellness, and quality of life.
Let’s begin with the bad news and how our homes and work places are failing us in providing quality indoor air quality or IAQ. Contrary to conventional wisdom, opening a window does not always provide adequate amounts of fresh air to your space. And sadly, as we personally know, living in a large city, opening the windows can actually bring in unwanted contaminants such as allergens, soot, and pollutants. The other major culprits are found within our spaces and include mold, VOCs (think new car smell or the scent of a dryer sheet) and carbon dioxide from a variety of unassuming things that coexist with us such as gas stoves and dryers, recirculated air in central HVAC systems. Like many things in life, in small amounts these items are harmless but if they begin to build up this is when our IAQ comes into question. Health effects can range from headaches and fatigue to breathing difficulties.
The good news – you have control over many of these contaminants and there are immediate and long-term strategies to deal with improving your IAQ.
Strategies you can begin as soon as you are finished reading this post. This list can vary depending on the source, but the message remains the same.
• Keep it clean – focus on strategies that remove dust, mold and pet dander • Clean smart with green, low VOC products • Indoor plants can be more problematic than helpful – so do your research on the type of plant you want • Change the filters in your house regularly – in your HEPA vacuum, heater or furnace, AC unit, or forced air system, etc. • Air purifiers can help remove allergens • Dehumidifiers help with preventing mold • Do let fresh air in – for many of us the outside air is clean
For some of us this is not enough, and we want more. It could be driven by the simple desire to live in the healthiest, quietest environment possible or by a medical issue such as asthma. In our next blog on IAQ, we will explain why Passive House construction is one of the best strategies to create to a healthy home or office environment.