Primary Causes of Indoor Air Problems

Indoor Air Quality refers to the quality of air within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common pollutants can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns.

Male hands with instruments make ac condition maintenance indoor air quality

Primary Causes

The primary cause of indoor air quality problems is indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air. Those indoor pollutant levels are increased by inadequate ventilation. There is not enough outdoor air brought in to dilute the emissions from indoor sources and to carry indoor air pollutants out of the area. High temperature and humidity levels can increase concentrations of some pollutants.

Pollutant Sources

There are many sources of indoor air pollution, including:

  • Central heating and cooling systems
  • Humidification devices
  • Excess moisture
  • Tobacco products
  • Fuel-burning combustion appliances
  • Household cleaning products, personal care products
  • Building materials and furnishings
  • Newly installed flooring, upholstery, or carpet

The importance of a single source depends on how much of a pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions can be. Factors such as how old the source is and whether or not it is properly maintained are significant in some cases. An improperly adjusted gas stove can emit significantly more carbon monoxide than a properly adjusted one.

Some sources can release pollutants more or less continuously, like building materials, furnishings, and products like air fresheners. Others can release pollutants intermittently, like smoking or cleaning.

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