Air quality matters
The air inside our home can be even more hazardous to your health than the air outside. Studies have estimated that most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors.
Even though they're invisible to the naked eye, billions of tiny particles of dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander and microscopic dust mites can literally cover your carpet, drapes, furniture - even the clothes you wear. Left alone, your home can quickly turn into a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause or inflame a wide variety of physical and respiratory ailments. Your home can also harbor noxious fumes and gases. Foul odors not only disrupt comfort but can lead to headaches, dizziness and nausea.
Where pollutants come from
These tiny creatures and particles occur naturally. When they infiltrate your home and multiply unchecked that's when the trouble starts. Homes today are built much "tighter' so less fresh air enters and the concentration of pollutants in the air inside the home rises dramatically. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that indoor air pollution is several times greater than outdoor air pollution!
In addition to naturally occurring pollutants, the number of man-made contaminants continues to rise. New materials of construction, fabrics, paints, cleaning compounds, etc. steadily release potential irritants into the air inside your home. One study shows that there are at least 25 new sources of indoor air contamination compared to just a few years ago.
Lifestyles also affect indoor air quality. Smoking, cooking, house cleaning, personal grooming and pets all add contaminants to the air in your home.
How dangerous are these pollutants?
Dust and other airborne particles can be particularly troublesome to the over 40 million North Americans who suffer from allergies. Response to indoor pollutants can range from mild congestion and sneezing to severe allergic reactions. The American College of Allergy and Immunology reports that house dust is a major cause of allergies in persons with year round complaints. Further, it is estimated that the average six room house collects over 40 pounds of dust each year.
In addition to health risks posed by chemical irritants, smoke and cooking grease drawn into your ventilation system can build up on the inside of ducts and other surfaces and reduce the efficiency of your furnace and air conditioner.
My furnace came with a disposable air filter that I change every heating season. Is that enough?
Standard disposable furnace air filters capture about 5% of the dust and other pollutants circulating in your home. The primary function of the standard furnace filter is to intercept large particles that could potentially damage the blower in your furnace. It is important to remember to check your furnace filter regularly for dust buildup which can reduce furnace efficiency and re-circulate pollutants in your home. If you have a central air conditioning system it is recommended that you replace your filter at least two to four times a year because your furnace is still filtering the air.