What is Acceptable Indoor Air Quality ?



What is an acceptable indoor air quality for home ?

How do you know that the indoor air quality of your home is acceptable and up to standard ?

These are the questions many people ask once they realize that indoor air can be as polluted as outside air. In fact, statistic from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that the indoor air in our homes is actually 2-5 times more polluted than outside air.

This article will help you to answer these questions without having to pay for pricey indoor air quality inspections.



What is an Acceptable Indoor Air Quality for Your Home ?

There are all sorts of indoor air quality standards which an expert individual can measure. However, if you don't want to invest on an indoor air quality inspections, then use the checklist below to gauge how clean the indoor air at your home is.

Basically, the indoor air of your home is acceptable if:

1. Your house has good air changes per hour.

In order for a home to have an acceptable indoor air quality, it should have a good ventilation system to ensure air changes. Decent air changes will dilute indoor pollutants considerably and increase indoor air quality. In order to achieve this, not only should a house be aired frequently by opening the doors and windows. But also, it should have a good forced air system for air conditioning and heating as well as a good exhaust fan for windowless areas, such as bathroom.

How good is good though ?

Acceptable indoor air quality standards, including air changes, differs from building to building and room to room. For instance, at the extreme, commercial kitchens should have 20-30 air changes per hour, whereas warehouses only need 1-2 air changes per hour. Air changes requirement for a house might be closer to that of classroom, which is 3-4 air changes per hour, provided the members of family are healthy. The requirement of the air changes increases if you have a family member who has medical problems and is sensitive to the quality of indoor air.

But how do you measure the air changes ?

In a typical airtight house in the US, where houses are continuously cooled down in summer months and heated up in winter, and has a minimal air leak, air changes depend a lot on the HVAC system. A HVAC person can be called to judge the quality of your HVAC system and to see whether it provides good air changes.

But, if you only want to have a rough idea how clean your home indoor air is, look at the warning signs below which indicate that your home has a poor air change system :

  • mold
  • stalled or smelly indoor air.
  • condensation along the window.
  • dirty central heating or cooling equipments

2. No one has illnesses which can be attributed to poor indoor air quality.

When indoor air quality of a home deteriorates, the most sensitive member of its inhabitant is usually the first who takes the brunt. These are adults or children who can't stand living in polluted homes and usually have allergy, asthma, other types of lung diseases or multiple chemical sensitivities which make them react to poor indoor air.

If one member of the family starts sneezing, coughing, having headache, and so forth, after moving to a new home, or after having a new home refurbished, it might be a sign that the indoor air quality is off.

3. The absence of a lifestyle which can make the home air quality worse.

Your lifestyle and the lifestyle of other people living with you can also be used as a gauge of your home indoor air quality. A house full of smokers or pets is very likely to have a poorer indoor air quality in general. Similarly, frequent use of strong cleaning agent and pesticides in a particular house means that the house may have, in some degree, accumulation of toxic fume.

In addition, if your house has just been refurbished, or if you just move into a new home altogether, you should be aware that the offgasing from painting, new carpet, and so forth, will be present for a period of time.

If you are worried that you don't have an acceptable indoor air quality in your home because of your lifestyle, then it is a good idea to invest in a good quality air purifier.

4. Home is not built in the middle of polluted environment.

Homes built in the industrial area surrounded by chemical plants have a higher chance of having an indoor air quality problems than the ones built in a place where the outdoor air is considerably cleaner.

5. Indoor air pollutant measurement doesn't show an alarming presence of pollutants. .

Another way to gauge whether the indoor air of your home meet the indoor air quality standards is by doing an indoor air quality measurement. EPA recommends that you measure at least the level of radon, a dangerous colorlous, odorless, radioactive gas in your home by using a test kit. A more comprehensive test on other indoor air pollutants, or even an indoor air quality inspection may be performed if you suspect that the quality of your house indoor air affects the health of the inhabitants.

Additionally, if you're moving to a new home, you may want to couple the general house inspection with an indoor air quality inspection to prevent the problems down the road, especially if one of the members of the family has a medical issue which requires a clean air.

If the indoor air quality measurement shows no alarming presence of pollutants, you can be rest assured that your home has an acceptable indoor air quality.


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