Healthy Space Series: Controlling Indoor Air Quality at Home
One of the few good things that we’ve experienced during the pandemic is the rapid transition of designers to long-term and health friendly designs. We’ve come to realize that forward thinking and innovation should have been our default in the first place—that we cannot afford to implement designs that will serve only the current, but the future needs of society as well. The access to clean air, and a less stressful environment are a basic human right, not a mere luxury. Hence, it should not be found only in staycation spaces or premium areas. It actually starts in our own homes.
Indoor Air Quality
Clean air is one of the basic design principles of a healthy space. Even more importantly today when COVID-19 has intensified, access to fresh air became a vital part of interior designs. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within a structure and around its vicinity affecting the wellness and comfort of dwellers. Several developers of commercial spaces like malls, offices, and co-working spaces have already taken the initiative to monitor their IAQ. By monitoring IAQ, we can control common pollutants that may put occupants’ health at risk.
Building and Cleaning Materials
Some of the source of air pollutants found within a structure include, but are not limited to, fuel-burning combustion appliances, tobacco fumes, asbestos containing materials, radon, household cleaning materials with chemicals, and pesticides. Sometimes pollutants may result to immediate health issues, but they may also manifest after a long period of time in the form of respiratory diseases, heart disease or even cancer. Therefore, controlling IAQ at home is essential.
Looking beyond the physical illness prevention, studies show that using natural materials and incorporating elements of nature in designs (water, plants, clean air etc.), result in positive psychological impacts such as stress reduction, increased productivity, and better perception of one’s well-being.
Poor Indoor Air Quality Prevention
The key to better indoor air quality prevention, is early detection. One way to check is to examine occupants’ daily activities, identify potential sources of indoor air pollution, and create designs that will address these points of concern. A good ventilation system and access to clean outdoor air will certainly help alleviate the risk brought air pollutants, but source control is still the most efficient way to protecting IAQ.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, some signs that your home may not have enough ventilation are: moisture condensation on windows or walls, smelly or stuffy air, and dirty central heating and air-cooling equipment.
Improving Ventilation Systems
An easy way to detect lack of enough ventilation, is by stepping outside and re-entering your home to check if odors are noticeable. You can also manage your IAQ through an air quality sensor that accurately assesses the multiple air quality measures.
Today, more advanced home designs are starting to incorporate the use of mechanical systems that drive in more outdoor air indoors. These designs include energy-efficient air-to-air heat exchangers.