The EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Guidelines

For better health, you need excellent air quality throughout your home and work space. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) understands the importance of healthy air. This agency has released some guidelines to maintain a healthy balance for your indoor spaces. When you adhere to these guidelines, you can ensure a healthy environment for your family or employees.

Indoor Air Quality Is Important

Poor air quality in a building can cause a variety of reactions. Some people might only sneeze or cough. For those with asthma or other respiratory problems, bad IAQ can cause a wide range of symptoms. Others could experience life-threatening issues if the conditions are bad enough.

In some cases, those indoor pollutants might create problems in the lungs or heart, especially if you’re constantly exposed over a long period of time. Unfortunately, some common household products can lower the quality of air in your home. If you are concerned about air quality in your Laurel home, ask the professionals at Minnick’s Inc. to set up an indoor air quality test.

Indoor Pollutants

Indoor pollutants can affect occupants in several ways. For example, if a person is exposed to radon over a long period, there are increased health risks, including lung cancer. Exposure to carbon monoxide at high levels can lead to death in a few minutes. Some pollutants cause both immediate and long-term health issues. Prolonged exposure to tobacco smoke is known to cause lung cancer. Even short-term smoke exposure can lead to respiratory problems, especially in young children.

Some people have different reactions to the same contaminants when exposed to similar concentrations. High-risk groups can develop severe allergic responses to biological contaminants. Those low-risk groups will not have the same reaction to the same level of exposure. For many people with pre-existing conditions, any exposure to pollutants can lead to a severe reaction. If you are using any type of chemical in your home or business, you need to understand the EPA’s guidelines for healthier air. While it might not impact your health, you could be risking the health of others around you.

EPA Indoor Air Quality Guidelines

For optimal health, you should be breathing clean air at home and work. Poor indoor air quality can lead to health problems, including sick building syndrome, headaches, nausea, or cancer. It is estimated that people spend about 90% of their time inside a building. For that reason, indoor air quality has a significant impact on many people’s health. The EPA has outlined the healthy thresholds for several common substances found in homes or businesses. While many pollutants are safe at low levels, there are a few with no safe levels of exposure.

Particulate matter can be a dangerous form of pollution. With the small size of the particles, there is a greater chance that they can reach the lungs and cause health issues. The EPA states PM2.5 particles should be 2.5 μm (micrometer) or less in diameter, and the threshold limit value is 25 μg/m3 in a 24-hour period.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a hazardous gas. Since it is odorless and colorless, you might not know if there is a leak in your home. The EPA has given a threshold limit of 25 ppm (parts per million) for 8 hours per day. However, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has raised its exposure limit to 35 ppm per day. If you think you might have CO issues in your home, you need to have the air tested by a professional. If left unchecked, CO gases can lead to deadly results.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) occurs naturally in the air, and the average outdoor levels range from 300 to 400 ppm. However, indoor levels can be higher due to the lack of airflow in a building. Once the levels reach over 7,000 ppm, there can be significant effects on your health. CO2 should not surpass 5,000 ppm in your home.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are known as semi-volatile organic compounds. These PAHs are hazardous to people’s health. Every PAH has different threshold levels. For example, naphthalene is one of the most volatile PAHs, and it has a threshold limit of 10 ppm.

A common VOC (volatile organic compound) is formaldehyde, and you can find it in several sources, including furniture. The EPA recommends a threshold limit of 0.1 ppm. Methylene chloride is a compound found in household cleaning solvents. This product has a threshold level of 250 ppm. However, any long-term exposure to it can lead to issues with the central nervous system.

Over the years, there have been several adverse health effects associated with nitrogen dioxide (NO2). For that reason, the EPA recommends that you should only use the gas for a one-hour period at a level of 100 ppm.

Finally, radon is a radioactive gas that is created when uranium decays in the soil. This gas is a well-known carcinogenic, and there are no safe levels of exposure. If you suspect radon near your home, you need to schedule a professional test to check your air quality levels.

Improve Your Air Quality Levels

From auto exhaust to tobacco smoke, there are several sources of pollutants in the air. You need to understand the EPA guidelines to help decrease these harmful gases, compounds, and chemicals in the air. When you eliminate some of these sources, you can improve the air quality in your home or business.

There are several ways to improve your indoor air quality. Some of the simplest methods include:

  • Buying low-VOC products
  • Purchasing air-purifying plants
  • Installing ventilation systems with HEPA filters

When it comes to your home, a high-quality HVAC system can lead to better indoor air quality. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has set standards to help HVAC professionals improve the air quality for residential homes and commercial businesses. There are many sources available that can help you get the best air quality for your home.

These air quality and ventilation standards can change your home’s air quality. It can be hard to measure some of these pollutant concentrations. Location, airspeed, and moisture content can all affect the emission levels. When you hire a professional HVAC company to conduct your air quality test, they have the right equipment to measure those pollutant levels in your home. If your air is unhealthy, then you can find ways to improve your air quality.

At Minnick’s Inc. in Laurel, MD, we can help your home or business achieve the best possible indoor air quality. Our team will come out to your property for an indoor air quality audit. If we find issues with the air, our technicians can offer a few solutions. In addition to air quality tests, we’re your top choice for heating, cooling, and plumbing services. We can assist you with repairs, maintenance, and installations. With our “Whole-Home Action Plan,” we focus on fixing those performance problems in your home. When you need help with your air quality, heating, cooling, or plumbing, make Minnick’s Inc. your first choice. Contact us today.