Indoor Air Quality
Indoor Pathogens and Threats That Affect the Air Quality of Your Home
Particulate matter is a very common indoor pollutant that can come from several sources in a home. Particulate matter is also known as PM or particle pollution. Particulate matter is a mixture of liquid and solid particles that are suspended in the air. PM is found in all indoor environments. Particles which are 10 micrometers or less in diameter are of particular concern because they are able to be inhaled.
Depending on its composition, particulate matter can cause serious health effects once inhaled, potentially affecting the entire respiratory system. This is because these particles can reach the deepest parts of the lungs as well as get into the bloodstream.
Sources of Indoor Particulate Matter
Many of the particles found in a home will have originated outdoors and found a way inside. Some examples of PM with outdoor sources include second-hand cigarette smoke, dirt, and soot. These pollutants get into homes on the soles of shoes, as well as on the fur of pets and objects carried into the home, and through heating and air systems.
Particulate matter can also be created as the result of items and processes inside the home. For example, the use of air fresheners, paints, pesticides, and cleaning products inside the home can cause the creation of gaseous particulates which can also be inhaled. The furniture inside a home, as well as the materials used to build the home, can also be responsible for the production of indoor particulate matter.
Indoor particulate matter can also be of a biological nature. Bacteria, viruses, droppings from insects and pests, pet dander, mold, and pollen are all common allergens which, with long-term exposure, can cause a wide array of reactions. Other biological allergens, such as urine protein from rodents, can become airborne after it has dried.
Mold is an especially sinister biological contaminant, as it will grow in any location where enough moisture is present. Central air systems that have become a place for mold to thrive can quickly distribute it to all areas of the home. Should ventilation be inadequate in these areas and a high level of moisture exist, mold can then begin to grow in more places in the home. Left unchecked, it can become costly to both the wallet and the health of occupants to rectify.
Symptoms of Exposure to Particulate Matter
There are several symptoms related to PM exposure. Irritations of the throat, nose, and eyes are common symptoms, as are various forms of asthma. In people with existing respiratory and coronary illnesses, PM exposure via an AC installation or another source can aggravate the symptoms of these conditions. In people having lung or heart disease, exposure to particulate matter can lead to premature death.
Biological pollutants such as mold release toxins that cause disease. There are several health problems associated with exposure to biological contaminants. These include lethargy, shortness of breath, dizziness, fever, and digestive problems.
Tips for Reducing Exposure to Indoor Particulates
It is possible to greatly reduce the numbers of particulates that enter a home with regular maintenance of air systems and good housekeeping.
Mold and Humidity
The prevention of mold can be achieved by regulating humidity levels. Where mold is already present, it’s critical to first eliminate existing mold, and then eliminate excess moisture from the air.
Keeping humidity levels between 30 and 60 percent will ensure that mold is controlled but, also, reduce the presence of cockroaches and dust mites, both of which can be responsible for the release of allergens into the air.
Ventilation is another way to prevent excess moisture. Rooms where high levels of moisture typically exist, such as the bathroom and kitchen, benefit most from exhaust fans which remove moist air and transfer it outdoors.
An added benefit of exhaust fans is that, along with moist air, they also remove any organic pollutants which may be in the air due to vaporization of hot water from appliances like kettles, dishwashers, and showers.
Regular cleaning can greatly reduce the number of allergens present in indoor air. Vacuum cleaners or central air conditioning service systems that are vented outside can help with allergen reduction, as can high-efficiency vacuum filters. However, those who have allergies should not be in the home when vacuuming takes place.
In homes where humidifiers are in use, it’s important to ensure that these are cleaned according to manufacturer instructions to prevent the growth of biological particulates. All humidifiers should be refilled with fresh water on a daily basis. Homes using dehumidifiers or air conditioners should ensure that the evaporation trays in these appliances are emptied and cleaned on a frequent basis.
Over time, appliances used for cooling, heating, and controlling moisture purposes may decline in their performance, making replacement necessary. There are several benefits to replacing these appliances.
In the case of AC/HVAC system replacement, a homeowner can benefit from the latest in air cleaning and filtering technology. For instance, particle removal air filters can be installed in HVAC duct work to remove the large particles that some mechanical air filters may leave behind.
Where replacement of an HVAC or other household air management system is concerned, the best advice is to always contact a professional. Not only do they have the expertise to advise on the best systems and filters for a home, but they can also ensure the safety of every installation.
Is Air Cleaning Sufficient for Removing Particles?
Many homeowners wonder whether installing filters or using mechanical air cleaners will be enough to reduce any adverse health effects related to indoor particulate matter. It is true that using air conditioning services with cleaning devices is likely to reduce the number of small particles or allergens. However, just because a device can remove particles, this may not be enough to completely reduce adverse health effects in certain individuals.
For example, those who have asthma or existing allergies may not experience a reduction in adverse health effects only by installing an air cleaning device. Rather, a multi-faceted approach which includes the use of an air device is likely to be more effective.
The furnishings in a home can trap allergens and may be able to be steam-cleaned. However, if steam cleaning is not possible, it may be that the best option is a complete replacement.
Household members with allergies may see a reduction in their symptoms when indoor allergens like pollen, dander, and dust mites are being controlled. This can be accomplished by encasing mattresses in an allergen-proof cover. As well, all bedding should be washed in hot water at 130ºF.
The strength of indoor pollution sources will be an important factor when determining any air cleaner’s effectiveness. A small air cleaner that sits on a table top, for instance, may not be enough to remove gaseous pollutant particles from a strong pollution source; it may be that a more efficient HVAC system, and not an air cleaner, is what is needed for satisfactory removal of PM.
Where a more modern system is needed or an existing system requires maintenance, professional installation or air conditioning repair can be enough to greatly reduce the amount of indoor PM in a home.
An air cleaner’s effectiveness will also depend on two other factors: how good it is at collecting pollutants from indoors, and how much air it is able to draw through its filtering or cleaning element.
Taking action to reduce the amount of indoor PM in your home can ensure that the time spent in your home is as beneficial to your physical health as possible.
Interior Air Quality (IAQ) Products
Humidifiers, when used in dry, heated rooms of a home or business will increase interior comfort levels, assist with dry skin and allow an overall reduction of thermostat levels. Kaiser AC offers a great selection of whole home, bypass and heavy-duty HVAC humidifier systems for residential and commercial applications.
Kaiser AC offers residential and commercial dehumidifiers for moist-air rooms or applications which require a dry environment. Room to room and whole-house or business units are available. Dehumidifiers assist in reducing mold, mildew and other potential contaminants that may negatively affect interior air quality (IAQ) and overall health.
Germicidal Ultraviolet Lamps
When installed in HVAC air ducting, germicidal lamps emit intense rays of ultraviolet light to control and eliminate interior airborne pathogens such as: mold, bacteria, yeast and viruses. Kaiser AC offers a selection of both light and heavy duty IAQ germicidal ultraviolet lamps for both residential and commercial applications.
Ventilation & Energy Recovery
Kaiser AC offers competitive pricing on residential and commercial ventilation and energy recovery systems. Energy recovery ventilators are available to drive heat and moisture outside your home or business. Heat recovery ventilators are available to exchange interior air with a fresh, outdoor supply while preventing heat loss.
Air Filtration Systems
Kaiser AC specialized in cost-effective and energy efficient HVAC air filtration solutions. HVAC filters are available for all makes and models of equipment and include: economical high flow filters, hospital grade filtration systems for airborne allergens, and best-in-market HEPA sealed system air filtration products.
Air Purification Systems
Kaiser AC offers a range of interior air quality (IAQ) air purification systems including PureAir™ from Lennox. PureAir™ utilizes advanced UVA lighting technology to destroy all three classes of interior air contaminants and reduce ozone levels. Purification systems are available for whole-house or commercial HVAC applications.
Contact our sales department to request literature, learn more or receive a no-cost, no-obligation quote on new systems installation. For more information please call 805-988-1800 or Email Kaiser Air Conditioning.