Lasting Effects of Poor Indoor Air Quality

Parents relax on couch as they watch their kids play in their living room.

Indoor air quality, or IAQ, refers to the quality of the air in a home, school, office, or other building environment. Because Americans on average spend 90 percent of their time indoors, the potential impact of indoor air quality on health is noteworthy. According to the World Health Organization, household air pollution is one of the leading causes of death in the developing world.

It’s important to note that indoor pollutant levels are typically 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels. The quality of the air will affect the way that people perform in their everyday lives, and poor air quality can have both short- and long-term effects on human health. Continue reading to learn more about its causes and effects, and what you can do to improve the air in your home.

Indoor Air Quality Statistics

Americans spend about 93% of their time indoors.

The quality of indoor air can be 2 - 5 times more polluted than the outside air.

The EPA has ranked indoor air pollution among the top 5 environmental dangers.

Allergies, asthma, lung cancer and heart problems have been linked to poor air quality.

Short-Term and Less Severe Health Effects

While symptoms of poor indoor air quality can be broad, depending on the contaminant, they are typically mistaken for symptoms of other illness such as allergies, stress, cold, and influenza. The most common symptoms are:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Upper respiratory congestion

Long-Term and More Serious Health Effects

Brief exposure typically causes mild symptoms that go away when you leave the space. Long-term, repeated exposure can have significant health effects such as:

  • Mood changes
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Neurological disorders
  • Cancer

Air Pollution and Heating and Cooling Systems

Not only does poor indoor air quality have serious negative effects on human health, but it also poorly affects your home heating and cooling systems (HVAC). Particulate matter clogs up filters, builds up inside air ducts, and clings to coils and other components of your system. This ultimately affects the performance of your equipment, causing it to become less efficient, create higher costs in monthly bills and repairs, and shorten its lifespan.

Common Pollutants and Sources

There are many pollutants that circulate through our homes, but the typical pollutants of concern include:

  • Biological contaminants like bacteria, viruses, mold, and dust mites
  • Household products like paint, varnish, cleaning products, building materials, and cosmetic products
  • Natural substances such as radon and pet dander
  • Pesticides, lead, and asbestos
  • Combustion sources such as tobacco, gas stoves, fireplaces, kerosene heaters, and grills that can emit carbon monoxide

What You Can Do

Indoor air quality is not something to brush under the rug. Most people at risk of these serious conditions don’t know about the harmful effects until they end up experiencing some themselves. Making the commitment to improving your air quality is the first step in preventing negative health effects. Here’s a list of some things you can do today:

Clean furnace filter.
A closeup of a technician’s hands placing a service sticker on an outdoor air conditioner

How We Can Help

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is often called the lungs of the home for a reason. With over 40 years of experience, we understand the importance of indoor air quality and what it means for the safety and health of your family. We offer top-rated products such as high-efficiency air cleaners, germicidal UVC lamps, oxidizing UVC systems, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and air exchangers to keep a constant flow of clean, fresh air.

We can ensure your ventilation system is working efficiently, saving you money by keeping your equipment running at its best, and creating a healthier home through regular maintenance. To learn more about how your HVAC system plays an important role in your home air quality and other related topics, request an appointment, and check out these helpful resources: