Jeff Flowers on December 7, 2015 25 Comments While the specific definition of indoor air quality remains under debate, it is important to understand the ways in which certain contaminants and airborne pollutants in your home can have an affect you. Many experts define the purity by the comfort of a building’s occupants, and they believe that some individuals can find certain situations acceptable while others may not. No matter if you are feeling the effects, compared to others in your home, improving poor indoor air quality should be a priority to every homeowner. Unfortunately, it may take some time to put together the link between poor indoor air and the health symptoms or complications that you may be experiencing, if they’re even linked at all. Often the case, the air in your home might be harming you more subtly, and you don’t even know it. This is precisely why it’s important to do what you can to improve the air quality. Not too long ago, we discussed why you have bad indoor air quality. Today, we want to discuss why it is important to understand and identify potential issues, as well as know what you can do to help improve the quality of your indoor air. Here are a few signs you will want to look for when determining the quality of the air in your home or workplace. 1) Pay Attention to Your Allergies It may be tempting to attribute a recent allergy episode to a change in seasons or weather patterns, but it could likely be a sensitive reaction to the contaminants in your indoor environment. Many people experience allergies in response to a range of materials, and in fact, concentrations of pollen, dust and other irritants can be more concentrated in enclosed locations than they are in outdoor spaces. Potential symptoms include coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, bloody noses and congestion. If you are experiencing any of these issues, pay careful attention to when the symptoms arrive and when they disappear. If you start to experience issues shortly after you walk into your office or home and those same symptoms disappear shortly after you leave, then you are likely dealing with poor air quality within that space. 2) Notice New or Unusual Symptoms Many health symptoms or ailments will likely be mild. However, some contaminants like asbestos, toxic mold spores and other hazardous chemicals can have a much more extreme effect on your health. If you begin to notice dizziness, nausea, rashes, fevers, chills, fatigue, vomiting, muscle pain, shortness of breath or hearing loss, then it’s very possible that you may be dealing with a much more extreme issue. If you find yourself in this scenario, you will want to call a professional to identify and fix the issue as quickly as possible. It would also be wise to consult with your doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing as soon as possible, and possibly once again once you identify what was sabotaging the air quality in your home. 3) Be Careful of Your Lungs If left unaddressed, the chemicals in your home may quickly affect your lungs and, in extreme situations, possibly lead to some pretty severe health conditions. For example, if you frequently experience bronchitis or pneumonia symptoms, it could be a direcyt result of the airborne particles you’re breathing in from your home. Additionally, if you don’t address the reasons why this is happening or discuss your healthy symptoms with your doctor, then your symptoms may develop into something much worse. If you are experiencing any of these issues, there are a number of things you can do to correct the issue. Firstly, get your air system inspected and/or cleaned. Make sure you change your air filters on a regular basis and get an air purification system in your home. Ideally, you want to catch smaller symptoms before they turn into a bigger problem, especially when the health of you or your family is on the line.. 4) Note Your Surrounding Environment Once you have begun to notice health symptoms, you will want to start investigating potential causes for the issue. First, consider the factors in the environment surrounding your home or office. If there is new construction going on near you, then perhaps that is the culprit. Construction, renovations or manufacturing can release a number of chemicals and particles into the air, which may easily enter through ducts and ventilation. This is a common scenario for office environments where you have little control over what goes on in the room next to you. Additionally, if you live in a tightly-packed neighborhood, it may be wise to pay close attention to the actions of your neighbors. If they have recently sprayed their lawn with insecticides, painted their house or somehow used any other chemicals, they may be entering your home and polluting your indoor air. Noticing simple changes to your surrounding environment can go a long way in helping you identify a potential problem. And once you know what is triggering your allergies, you will have a better idea of what you can do to protect yourself. 5) Note Home Improvements or Repairs While your neighbors might be the cause, you also want to look at improvements, renovations or other changes within your own home. If you have recently replaced the flooring, painted or made other major updates, the purity of your air may be suffering as a result. The chemicals in your own home can collect in your HVAC system and then start circulating throughout your entire home. As a result, you may quickly experience a negative effect on your health. To prevent this, be sure to thoroughly clean up after the project has been completed, as well as change your air filters immediately. It would also be wise to buy an air purifier to help improve your air quality by removing potentially harmful particles that were recently kicked up. 6) Rule Out Other Culprits Excluding your neighbors or recent home renovations, there can also be a number of other environmental causes for health issues that you may be tempted to blame on poor indoor air quality. While polluted air may be a significant factor, there are a number of other sources that can be the reason behind the symptoms you may be experiencing. Some of these can include noise, lighting, ergonomics or thermal comfort. Each of these can also lead to eye discomfort, sneezing, coughing, sleepiness and a multitude of other health ailments. Double check that none of these sources are present before you definitively determine that poor air quality is to blame. Either way, taking steps to improve your air quality is a good thing to do, even if it’s not the culprit behind the symptoms you experience. 7) Look for Inconsistencies In Air Distribution Whether you are experiencing health symptoms or not, you can identify issues by noticing inconsistencies throughout a building. If one spot is colder or warmer than another, you likely have an issue in the system that could potentially be affecting the purity of airflow. This not only plays a role in the overall air quality, but also the temperature in each area. In addition, you want to pay attention to the humidity levels of different areas. Mugginess or dryness at particular times throughout the year can be a sign that you have poor indoor air quality. Depending on the scenario that you find yourself in, a humidifier or dehumidifier can help you get the humidity back to a level that is beneficial to everyone within the environment. 8) Contact a Professional If you have noted a few of the above signs, then it is likely time to contact an expert. They will be able to run some tests and inspect your home to discover the severity of the problem. Not only will they they be able to tell you the source of the problem, but also offer some suggestions on what you can do to improve your indoor air quality. Once the source has been identified, you will want to form a plan of action to best approach and solve the problem. While you may be able to accomplish this easily by purchasing an air purifier or humidifier, there are other issues that may require more time and money. For example, you may need to make some upgrades to your HVAC system, or remove asbestos from your home. There are an endless number of sources that may be causing air pollution in your home. Ultimately, an expert can help you find the best route to the solution. Why Indoor Air Quality Matters Poor air quality has an important impact on the comfort of your home and your overall health. While some symptoms may seem mild, they may often escalate to more complex health complications. This can be easily minimized by doing both of the following: Change your air filters on a regular basis. Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter. By paying close attention to the symptoms you may be experiencing and identifying the sources of the problems, you can easily address the issue and work to improving your indoor air quality.