What Does IAQ Stand For?
IAQ stands for Indoor Air Quality, as it related to the health and personal comfort of the building’s occupants. The indoor air quality can be affected by a variety of factors including carbon monoxide, mold, bacteria, dust, pollen, and smoke.
But other items can contribute volatile organic compounds (VOCs) too. For example, furniture releasing gasses, and flooring can release contaminants as well (that’s exactly what “new car smell” is, this off-gassing).
Do I Have an Indoor Air Quality Problem?
Poor IAQ does have short term and long term health consequences.
According to the EPA, immediate effects of pollutant exposure are irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Diseases such as asthma may be aggravated or worsened.
Other health effects may not show up for years after the exposure has initially occurred, or only after long repeated periods of exposure. This includes some respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer.
It’s important to improve the indoor air quality in your business, even if the symptoms are not immediately noticeable because they can have debilitating or fatal long term consequences.
To know if you have an Indoor Air Quality Problem, you’ll need to look for signs that your home does not have enough ventilation. You can find a list of common air quality pollutant sources on the EPA’s website.
Be on the lookout for:
– Moisture condensation on windows and walls
– Smelly or “stuffy” air
– Dirty central heating and cooling equipment
– Whether books, shoes, or other areas of your home become moldy
You can have the radon levels measured in your home. The federal government recommends testing for radon, and the levels of radon will negatively impact your indoor air quality.
Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer for the general population. You can read more about lowering the radon level in your restaurant from this EPA consumer guide.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
IAQ can become worse during the winter and summer, months where your space is usually sealed tight to keep climate controlled air from escaping.
First, if you believe that you have a problem with indoor air quality we strongly recommend getting a radon test. Because radon is colorless and odorless there is no way to tell if you have a problem with it besides having the test.
According to the EPA, radon reduction techniques work – some systems can reduce radon levels in your space by up to 99%.
There are 3 main methods to improve your indoor air quality.
It’s going to be very important that you walk around your house and identify sources of pollution in your space. Potential sources of pollution can be asbestos, gas stoves, tobacco smoke (even 2nd hand smoke), and radon. Depending on the source of the contaminant, it can be handled in different ways. Some contaminants like asbestos can be enclosed.
Gas stoves and appliances can potentially be adjusted to decrease the number of emissions. Other contaminants like radon can be handled through incorporating management systems into your space.
On the topic of source control, regular maintenance seasonally and monthly in your space can help you maintain a healthier indoor air quality. Check out this maintenance guide from The American Lung Association for an easy seasonal checklist you can follow.
If you do any short-term pollutant activities like painting, paint stripping, heating with kerosene heaters, cooking, or hobbies like building (soldering, sanding, and welding all create VOCs) then ventilation will be key to your lung health.
Whenever the temperature allows, open windows and doors to bring fresh air into your space and run fans to encourage ventilation. You can also open the doors to various rooms to increase air circulation.
You can also look at using bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust indoor air outdoors, to increase outdoor ventilation as well.
Most HVAC systems do not naturally bring outdoor air into the house. Unless you ventilate your house intentionally or have installed a separate mechanical solution then the only way your house is ventilated right now is through natural ventilation (opening windows and doors) and infiltration (air seeps into your house through cracks, in between your floors, and through joists from the outside).
Exposing your house to outside air is an incredibly important factor in promoting good air quality.
The effectiveness of an air cleaner to improve your IAQ will depend on the pollutant, its strength, and what air filter you buy.
According to the EPA, “The effectiveness of an air cleaner depends on how well it collects pollutants from indoor air (expressed as a percentage efficiency rate) and how much air it draws through the cleaning or filtering element (expressed in cubic feet per minute).”
Some air cleaners are really great at removing particles and VOCs. Others, like cheaper tabletop models, are not so great at it. The EPA has a very comprehensive guide on air cleaning which will help you figure out if this is a good option for you, and which type of air cleaner would be best for your space.
Indoor Air Quality Services In Delmarva
If you’re concerned about the indoor air quality of your restaurant, and you’re not sure whether or not you have an IAQ problem, give us a call today at (888) 238-4133 or easily schedule an appointment online.