By: Robert Martin, CAFS, Associate Category Manager |
Good indoor air quality (IAQ) is everyone’s job. You don’t need to be a building manager, maintenance engineer, or an HVAC contractor to make positive IAQ changes where you live and work. In fact, even small changes in behavior can have a big impact.
You spend a lot of time at work. Make sure your work hours are spent in a healthy workplace by following this advice.
1. Clean up after yourself. Dirty food and beverage containers can create noxious odors. They may also attract pests, whose droppings can break down into tiny particles and become attached to airborne dust particles, creating IAQ problems.
2. Don’t block the vents. Be sure to place furniture, file cabinets and other items away from air intake grates and heating/cooling vents to allow the HVAC system to work efficiently.
3. Watch your VOCs. Some commonly used office items like inks and art supplies contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be released into the air, causing odors as well as potential health risks.
4. Speak up. Your facility manager and maintenance staff need to know when IAQ becomes a problem —sooner rather than later — so they can investigate and mitigate any issues.
We all want our homes to be as healthy as possible. Consider these tips for improving your home’s IAQ.
5. Reduce allergens. Allergenic particles like pollen can attach themselves to our clothing and walk right in the door with us. If you have allergy sufferers in your home, don’t hang laundry to dry outside, and toss your clothes in the washer and take a shower after you come in from outdoor activities. Keep pets out of sleeping areas and away from upholstered furniture, carpets and stuffed toys. Cut back on carpeting and drapes, and use a vacuum with double-bagging or a HEPA filter. Regular cleaning can help get rid of dust and pet fur.
6. Open windows. Or run air conditioning or ventilation systems to bring in fresh air. Do not smoke inside. Properly ventilate rooms with high humidity, such as bathrooms, kitchens and basements to prevent moisture build-up and mold. Never run cars, lawnmowers and other combustion devices inside the garage. Always operate a safe distance from windows and doors.
7. Change your furnace filter regularly. Many homeowners don’t give much thought to their furnace filter, but a clogged filter will not operate as efficiently to remove airborne particles. Clogged filters also cause the heating and cooling system motors to work harder to push air through the system, thus increasing energy costs. Be sure to look for filters that offer high efficiency in removing submicron particles, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for changing them. Most recommend every three months, but you may want to increase that frequency if you have anyone in your home who suffers from allergies or asthma, if you live in an area with poor outdoor air quality, or if you have done any home renovations that kick up dust, dirt, mold or other particles.