What is Indoor Air Quality?
By definition coined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the condition of the air within your place of domicile or work and its relation to your health and comfort level.1
It can be measured and tested by yourself or professionals, where the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOC), carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and more are identified.2
What are the signs of poor indoor air quality?
Accumulation of pollutants or contaminants is the reason the air in your home lacks quality, and without proper ventilation, the situation will not improve. So, how do you determine if your house has poor air quality?
1. Lingering, unpleasant odours
You constantly smell unpleasant odours in your home, and the worst part is, they linger. This can come from various sources – pets, stoves, fireplaces, cigarettes, and more.
These odours can stick to your furniture and clothes, leaving your house smelling unpleasant for days.
On top of that, if your home has poor ventilation and cannot properly circulate the air to bring in fresh air while reducing stale, polluted air, it’ll take even longer for the smell to dissipate.
An excessively humid or dry home will also lead to mould growth. So, if you see visible mould growing on surfaces in your home, it is a clear sign of poor air quality.
Poor air quality will eventually lead to poor health. If members of your household are experiencing respiratory problems or allergies, and you’ve eliminated other factors that may cause these issues, then poor indoor air quality is most likely the culprit.
Your family may also experience headaches, fatigue, or other symptoms when spending time indoors.
It is important to address any signs of poor indoor air quality before it’s too late. After all, it has negative effects on your health and well-being.
Why do you need quality indoor air for your health?
Since the pandemic, many of us have started spending more time at home as we transition into remote working3.
Therefore, if we spend most of our time at home with poor air quality, indoor air pollutants can leave a serious impact on our health.
Soon after being exposed to bad air quality even just one time can lead to minor complications such as:4
- Irritation of the eyes, nose or throat
The chances of you experiencing these symptoms depend on your age, existing medical complications and more; but prolonged exposure to contaminated air will increase your likelihood of getting ill.
Long term effects5
After long periods of exposure to poor air quality, you are likely to develop heart disease and cancer, depending on the types of pollutant present in your environment.
The worst part is, these illnesses can go unnoticed until the later stages of development – at that point, it may be too late.
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure – to that, it’s important to monitor the quality of the air in your home or office, and practice ways to keep your environment clean.
How do you measure & monitor IAQ?
To understand how to measure IAQ, you must first understand the measurement units required for each air contaminant or gas:6
- VOC (safe levels are less than 500 ug/m3)
- Carbon dioxide (safe levels are less than 700 ppm)
- Humidity (optimum levels are 30%-60%)
- Formaldehyde (safe levels are below 27 ppb)
- Carbon monoxide (safe levels are less than 9 ppm)
From there, you can place sensors around your home to measure the pollution levels mentioned above.7
Some modern sensors also have mobile app companions that you can download so you can monitor home air quality with the tap of a button.
How to ensure the best IAQ at home?
After gauging your home’s air quality, and depending on the measurements, there are several ways to improve the situation to ensure consistent healthy readings.
1. Ventilation is key
In terms of what you want to be breathing into your lungs every day, nothing beats fresh, clean air.
A study discovered that indoor air may contain up to five times more organic pollutants than outdoor air, meaning that your indoor air quality can be much worse than the air outdoors.8
Therefore, ensuring that there’s proper air at home can greatly help in minimising pollutants floating in the air while removing odour at the same time.
There are two ways to go about improving ventilations:
◦ Not only is this method free, but it’s also effective. When you are away, crack open a window so that fresh air can enter throughout the day, even if it rains; if you’re at home, feel free to bust them wide open.
◦ If it’s a viable option for you, keeping your doors open in every room at home can help greatly as well.
Nowadays, keeping the windows open looks unlikely due to the rising levels of pollution like haze and PM2.5.
◦ To help fresh air better circulate in your home, you can install items such as fans and air purifiers in your bedroom or living area.
◦ You can also opt to use air conditioners that come with air-purifying technology, such as Panasonic’s nanoe™ X, which is able to eliminate up to 99% of airborne pollutants.
◦ Vents and ducts are also great options to get rid of humid, stale air in damp places such as the bathroom and kitchen.
2. Removing pollutants at the source
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, source control - the process of eliminating contaminants at the source, is the most effective way of improving IAQ.9
A variety of items or places in the house can be pollutant source:10
- Tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, and vapes)
- Poorly maintained cleaning products (bleach, detergents, and aerosol sprays)
- Excess moisture, which leads to mould
- Leaky gas stoves
- Air conditioners or heaters
3. Plants are your friends
A study conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has found that indoor plants are great at not just absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, but some species of greenery can also remove VOCs, formaldehyde, and benzene.
- Chinese evergreen
- Peace lily
- English ivy
- Weeping fig
- Florist’s chrysanthemum
Maintain good indoor air quality with nanoe™ X
In addition to the above, you can also take advantage of new technologies such as the unique nanoe™ X to improve and maintain your home's indoor air quality.
Hydroxyl radicals occur naturally and are well-known for their ability to inhibit pollutants, but they have a limited lifespan.
Panasonic air conditioners with nanoe™ X can generate huge quantities of hydroxyl radicals enveloped in water, increasing the molecules’ lifespan for up to 600 seconds. This greatly enhances their capability to inhibit bacteria and viruses, moulds, allergens, pollens, and hazardous substances, as well as deodorising the surrounding area.
nanoe™ X penetrates deep inside tightly woven materials such as curtains, blinds, carpets and furniture – reaching pollutants on hard surfaces, and aids in air purification, thus improving indoor air quality with cleaner and fresher air.
Selected nanoe™ X air conditioners can be linked with Panasonic's own ventilation and IAQ controller, creating a complete air management system that is able to improve overall indoor air quality, promising cleaner and fresher air.
Learn more about nanoe™ X here