What Factors Affect Indoor Air Quality?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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While a great deal of attention is given to the quality of the air in outdoor settings, not everyone thinks about indoor air quality. The fact is that the air in a home may be more toxic than the air outside. This is due to a number of different factors that have a negative impact on the quality of the air in houses, apartments, and even commercial buildings.

One of the key factors that influences indoor air quality is the materials used to construct the edifice. A number of materials once used in homes and other buildings have been declared unsafe, due to emissions that are released over time. One example is asbestos. Removing asbestos from inside the walls of older buildings will significantly improve the air quality immediately.

Elements introduced into the space can also cause the indoor air quality to decline measurably. The fumes from tobacco smoke, some cleaning agents, and even heating products like kerosene or gas will permeate upholstery and seep into the walls and carpeting of the space. Collectively, these can trigger a number of indoor allergies that may require medication, unless the origin of the allergies is discovered and removed from the premises.


Mold and mildew can also increase the level of air pollution within a building. Carpeting and the underlying padding will quickly develop mold and mildew after sustaining water damage. In like manner, central air systems may build up mold in air ducts, even when the air filters are changed on a regular basis. The only way to combat contaminants of this type is regular cleaning, or in the case of soaked carpet, replacement.

Elevating indoor air quality is often a process of not only eliminating certain contaminants from the building, but also a matter of taking proactive steps to prevent the development of any substance that could have an adverse effect on the quality of the air. This includes cleaning carpeting regularly, repairing leaky water pipes before they can cause mold and mildew, and making sure there is a proper level of ventilation when working with various cleaning or heating agents within the building. Taking the time to learn how to use various substances safely will go a long way in keeping indoor air quality at acceptable levels.

Many countries around the world have set standards aimed at improving the indoor air quality in homes and various types of public buildings. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has helped pass legislation that prohibits the use of building materials that could lead to the development of a number of allergies and long term health issues. Air purification systems are now standard equipment in many buildings, helping to limit the production of mold and the transference of emissions such as tobacco smoke to furniture upholstery and into air ductwork.


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