How Does Indoor Air Quality Affect Our Health? | IT Landes
Mom helping child with their asthma

IT Landes has been helping the residents of the Harleysville area to keep their homes comfortable since 1929. When most people think about climate control, they focus on their heating and cooling systems. However, professionals in the HVAC industry know that the quality of the air has a major impact on the overall comfort in your house. Poor indoor air quality can lead to several serious health issues.

Allergens in the Air You Breathe

The most common indoor air impurities are found in the dust that coats surfaces that have not been cleaned in a while. On a sunny day, you have probably noticed these dust particles floating in a sunbeam. Household dust is a mix of dead skin cells from pets and people, hair, fibers, and fine dirt brought in from the outdoors. During the allergy season, you will also find pollen grains in the mix.

People who are prone to seasonal allergies will have symptoms that mimic the common cold. They may develop a runny nose and cough as their immune systems respond to foreign substances. If a loved one has a preexisting respiratory issue like asthma, allergens in your air supply can trigger an attack.

Tackling Common Household Dust

Every household must deal with dust. As a homeowner, you can remove a fair amount of dust using traditional cleaning methods. You may want to increase the amount you sweep, dust, and vacuum during allergy season. It can also be helpful to encourage your family members to remove their shoes before they come inside. This will prevent them from tracking extra dirt and pollen grains into your residence.

From an HVAC standpoint, the air filter on your system will remove some of the largest dust particles as air travels through your ducts. You can consult with one of our technicians about filter options that will remove even more. Keep in mind that a very powerful filter can slow the flow of air and make your system work harder. At your annual maintenance appointment, our experts will check your filter to make certain everything is flowing as it should.

Some homeowners look for a more professional solution to household dust. Air filtration systems use filters and static electricity to pull particles from the air. These devices can be installed into your existing HVAC system. You can also buy independent units that will remove dust from the air in a single room.

Volatile Organic Compounds and Your Health

Now and then, a customer will ask us about black marks on their furnace filter. They are concerned that it is a sign of mold. Usually, it means someone in the house has been burning candles. Something as innocuous as a scented candle releases trace amounts of chemicals into the air. These types of impurities are known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs.

VOCs come from many sources. When you fry food in oil, very small droplets will float in the air for some time. Household cleaning and beauty products also add to the chemical mix. In the basement or garage, solvents, paints, and lubricants release chemicals into the air. Even the long-term process of degrading plastics has a chemical signature. If you have a smoker in the house, that person is releasing a number of harmful chemicals.

The dangers of VOCs vary by the type and concentration of the chemicals involved. In the short term, low concentrations of VOCs can cause headaches or nausea. People who are sensitive to strong smells often feel overwhelmed by high concentrations of VOCs. Some people have trouble sleeping and end up fatigued or with a general sense of feeling unwell. Long-term exposure to these chemicals can have serious health consequences. For example, some of the chemicals released by cigarette smoke are carcinogens that have been shown to increase the risk of cancer.

Addressing VOC Concerns

One of the key concerns in dealing with VOCs is home ventilation. There needs to be ways for stale air to get outside your home and fresh air to make its way inside. This can be as simple as cracking open some windows on warmer days. In the kitchen and the bathrooms, exhaust fans will pull air to the outside. It is important to run your exhaust fan when you are cleaning or applying beauty products like hairspray.

Newer buildings are often built with construction materials and energy-efficient techniques that limit the amount of ventilation. Some homeowners install ventilation equipment into their HVAC systems. This creates an exchange of fresh and stale air while your home comfort systems are in operation.

Air purifiers are a powerful tool in removing VOCs from your environment. These devices use a combination of filters and a catalyst like activated charcoal to capture chemicals in the air. Both single-room and whole-house systems are available.

Dust Mites, Mold, and Other Biological Issues

If you have dust, you have dust mites. These small creatures are a natural part of your environment. They feed off the skin cells that you and your family members shed. However, in large numbers, their waste products can cause an allergic reaction similar to seasonal allergies.

Household mold is a more problematic impurity. Once again, most houses have low levels of mold spores in the atmosphere. Anywhere there is moisture, mold colonies can grow. This is another reason to run your exhaust fan in the bathroom. Venting out steam from a hot shower can minimize mold growth. If you think you have a serious mold problem, you will want to address it quickly. Some mold spores can get into your lungs and cause serious respiratory issues.

Benefits of Regular Duct Cleaning

One way to cut down on both dust mites and mold spores is regular duct cleaning. When IT Landes performs this service, our technicians will clean out any accumulated dust that has formed in your ductwork. This will remove a comfortable habitat for dust mites and a potential growing surface for mold colonies.

Home Humidity and Your Health

Humidity is another air quality factor that can affect your health. High humidity levels encourage the growth of mold colonies and dust mites. When the air is too dry, it is common to wake up with a dry, scratchy throat. Dry air can also cause itchy skin.

Your air conditioning system will remove humidity from the atmosphere as it cools your home. In terms of dry air, a whole-house humidifier is a helpful device for maintaining a comfortable atmosphere. It will add the right level of moisture to the air as it travels through your house.

Your Complete Home Service Partner

IT Landes is the company that Harleysville residents can trust with their home comfort needs. Our expert staff can help you with your traditional heating and cooling systems. We are able to work with geothermal systems, too. We are one of the area’s top fuel oil delivery companies as well. Our team is also available to perform comprehensive plumbing services at your home or business. Reach out to IT Landes for more information today!

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