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Why Indoor Air Quality Matters

Just breathe; why indoor air quality matters in the “scheme of things”

By Lauren Weigel, Broan Global Category Director – Household Ventilation

“Just breathe.” I can’t count how many times I’ve given this advice. Someone’s on a deadline, a client changed course, a child can’t figure out his homework, the dog chewed the couch – just take a deep breathe and you’ll feel better. Seems simple enough, right?

Not quite. The average adult takes more than 20,000 breaths a day. If most of those breaths are taken indoors, health complications could be imminent. According to a national survey from Broan, nearly 80 percent of homeowners believe indoor air quality (IAQ) can contribute to certain health issues, yet only 44 percent are worried about the air quality in their homes.

The air we breathe isn’t an eye sore like outdated cabinetry. It’s not an appliance that indicates when it’s due for replacement. It’s the one upgrade that never quite makes it to the honey-do list. What we fail to recognize is that when we overlook air quality, we’re also overlooking our health. This awareness gap means many Americans aren’t taking appropriate measures to prevent airborne pollutants.

Here are my three biggest pieces of advice on improving your indoor air quality:

  1. Don’t fall into the “hidden” trap: Indoor air is more than five times more polluted than outdoor air. What we can’t see can hurt us. Dust, pet dander, even the chemicals we use to keep our homes clean can negatively impact air quality.
Other contributors to poor IAQ include using a fireplace, running central heating and cooling systems, cooking often or lighting candles.

  1. Do know the signs. Symptoms of poor indoor air quality can easily be mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses such as allergies, stress, colds and influenza. The most common symptoms are: coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, fatigue, dizziness, headaches and upper respiratory congestion.
Health risks range from short-term effects – eye and throat irritation – to long-term effects – respiratory disease, pneumonia and even cancer.

  1. Do find the solution that’s right for you. Maybe it’s lingering food odors, or foggy bathroom mirrors that tip you off. Installing a range hood or replacing your existing bathroom fan can make a world of difference.
Beyond spot ventilation, there are also whole-house, balanced systems that equalize indoor air pressure and remove stale air from the home. These systems may just introduce fresh air alone or include Heat Recovery (HRV) or Energy Recovery (ERV) features. Some BROAN models include HEPA filtration and are energy efficient.

Today’s homes are more connected than ever before. No longer the place where we just eat and sleep, our living spaces are our sanctuary. As such, we have appliances and gadgets that do just about everything for us regardless of whether we’re even there. Be it for pleasure, security or convenience, everything is just an upgrade away. Combating indoor pollutants is no different.
 
As we gear up for allergy season, please remember that airflow and proper ventilation are vital to our overall health and wellbeing. I think that’s one home improvement we can all get behind.
Most homeowners are aware that indoor air quality can be a problem