Indoor Air Quality

Amid growing concern about the quality of the outdoor air we breathe, many homeowners have become concerned about the quality of the air in their homes. The 1970's alarm about formaldehyde escaping into homes insulated with urea formaldehyde, combined with the 1980's radon gas scare, have made people wonder what they are breathing in their homes.

The contaminants of greatest concern are formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in building materials and consumer products, combustion products from fuel-burning appliances, microscopic organisms and radon. Indoor air pollution can come from building materials, consumer products, pets, pollen, indoor plants, smoking, and, in the case of radon, from the ground.

Experts advise three steps in improving indoor air quality.

  1. Reduce the source of potentially harmful chemicals by careful selection of building materials, furnishings and cautious use of household products. Keep in mind that everything you spray or use in the home eventually becomes part of the indoor atmosphere.

  2. Seal the source to prevent the release of chemicals into the air. For instance, seal foundation cracks and block off passages through which by-products of combustion could enter the home.

  3. Ventilate using an effective mechanical ventilator like an air-to-air heat exchanger. Electronic filters that attach to the furnace are also available. They remove particles from the air before it is circulated to the home.