People often think about air pollution associated with outdoor environments, but it is also very important to consider the quality of indoor air — especially since we spend so much of our time indoors. Indoor air pollution is characterized by how clean the air is that we breathe at home, schools, stores, workplaces, gyms, and other places that we occupy. Similarly to outdoor air pollution, it is directly related to the types and levels of pollutants present in the air.
In order to ensure health, safety and comfort for the occupants of any home or commercial property, it is important for everyone to understand the main points about indoor air quality, which includes:
- Be aware of the commonly reported symptoms that are linked to exposure to indoor air pollution. Symptoms may come and go, but you may become more attuned to noticing a pattern of experiencing symptoms while being inside or leaving a specific place. People who have allergies or asthma are more likely to experience symptoms. In some cases, whether a person reacts to pollution depends on individual sensitivities, which varies from person to person. So, keep in mind that you may experience symptoms while others may not.
- Meet with your primary care physician if you hold any inkling that you’ve been exposed to indoor air pollution. There are also physicians that specialize in IAQ-related health problems who can perform tests to determine toxic mold and radon levels in the body. It’s important to catch toxicity early-on to reduce long-term, detrimental health damage.
- Be informed about the potential sources and types of indoor air pollutants. Although the presence of such sources doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an indoor air quality problem, being informed about it is an important step toward assessing your everyday indoor environment. It may also lead you to consider the potential of past exposure because adverse health effects may take years to appear.
- Inspect your everyday environment and assess your lifestyle, including your home, workplace, gym, school, or other place that you spend a significant amount of time indoors. Some of the signs of problems related to IAQ are visible, while others may be noticed through smell. You may find that there is excessive moisture and humidity in the air and on the windows and walls in your home compared to your workplace. Take note.
- Contact an IAC2 Certified professional who is trained in the areas of mold, radon, asbestos, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, pesticides, biologicals, bacteria indoor particulate matter, allergens and other sources of indoor air pollution. Sources can be difficult to pinpoint on your own. An IAC2 Certified professional can help you identify the source of your problem and help you take the necessary steps toward improving your indoor environment.
Understanding the ins and outs of problems related to poor indoor air quality can save yourself and someone you know significant adverse health problems. Remember that symptoms may present differently in individuals. Also, determining the type and source of an indoor air quality problem can be difficult, but there are trained indoor environmental specialists that can help through inspection and various sampling, testing, and monitoring services.