Most people are aware of the risks surrounding outdoor air pollution. From ozone to carbon emissions, poor air quality seems to make headlines every week.
However, many people don’t seem to consider the air quality inside their home or office space. Within those four walls lurk toxins, particulate matter and chemicals that can compromise human health much more acutely than outdoor air. However, you can make the air more breathable with proper ventilation.
From updating HVAC systems to using natural cleaners, there are several steps you can take to ventilate more effectively and keep your property breathable.
1. Maintain and Update HVAC Systems
Naturally, you must maintain the system on which indoor air quality depends. If you rent multifamily residential buildings, you may have to hire a professional to inspect each unit’s HVAC system at least once a year. Additionally, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers requires you to change the HVAC filter to one with a MERV 6 rating to ensure it functions efficiently.
As energy codes change, older HVAC systems will inevitably need updating or replacing. Doing so will ensure it can remove more air contaminants based on occupancy levels and an increase in indoor air pollutants.
2. Improve Exhaust Rates
The ASHRAE standard also mandates minimum exhaust rates for multiple-occupancy buildings to ensure the ventilation system is pumping enough air out. It requires provisions for known sources of contaminants. For example, there must be exhaust hoods over mechanical stoves and vents in bathrooms. Clothes dryers and other combustion appliances must also vent to the outside.
These requirements ensure that carbon monoxide and other potentially harmful pollutants don’t build up within a commercial or residential space. They also minimize air recirculation, a feature that’s become increasingly important in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organization has yet to rule out short-range aerosol transmission of the virus. Thus, by siphoning air out of a space, you may reduce the risk of occupants spreading and developing COVID-19.
3. Regulate Temperature and Humidity
Controlling the temperature and humidity indoors when the weather is less than ideal requires a high energy output. Consequently, regulating your indoor pool area’s air quality without spending a fortune on energy bills can be extremely challenging. However, choosing a dehumidifying system with thermal break construction and high-efficiency recuperators can make energy-saving ventilation possible.
Additionally, you may install an HVAC system with a programmable thermostat inside the pool area, common spaces and residential units to ensure proper ventilation and temperature control. These thermostats will power off when the building is empty and periodically turn back on to prevent extreme fluctuations.
4. Reduce Indoor Air Pollution
Many apartment complexes and office buildings disallow the burning of cigarettes, candles and incense. Aside from being a fire hazard, some of these items may release particulate matter, chemicals and other harmful substances into the air. Older HVAC systems that contain filters with lower MERV ratings may not be able to filter out these contaminants. Therefore, it’s best to either ban these items or update HVAC systems to reduce indoor air pollution.
Regardless of which solution you choose, you should ensure that occupants and employees can easily open windows. Doing so will promote ventilation and air circulation, especially when people are less likely to use HVAC to heat or cool their unit.
5. Minimize Exposure to Chemicals
Common cleaning supplies can also contain chemicals that contribute to indoor air pollution. Chlorine bleach, oven cleaners, dry cleaning chemicals, detergents, upholstery cleaners and air fresheners are just a few products that can contain toxic substances. When used for cleaning, they can release volatile organic compounds and cause respiratory irritation, headaches and cancer. Even products boasting natural fragrances can produce dangerous indoor pollutants.
Minimize exposure to these chemicals by using natural or toxin-free cleaning solutions in offices and residential buildings. If you or the maintenance team must use harsh chemicals, ventilate the building by opening doors and windows or turning on the HVAC system.
Ventilation Benefits Everyone
Everyone, from office staff to hotel guests, can benefit from proper ventilation. By filtering carbon dioxide, viruses, VOCs and other harmful compounds out of the air, HVAC systems and good ventilation practices can ensure breathable air for all, helping people stay safe and productive indoors.