There are a number of factors that can lead to unhealthy air in your home or workplace, including lack of ventilation, too much humidity, and water infiltration or leakage, among others. Poor indoor air quality can cause a number of health problems such as breathing difficulties and allergies.
Humid or damp conditions in your home can encourage the growth of mould and the proliferation of dust mites. In addition, unless you use a vacuum cleaner with high efficiency filters, mould spores, bacteria, and other microbial contaminants can build up on floors, carpets, and upholstery.
Moulds are fungi that grow in damp environments. Their spores contain allergens and irritants. Mould can develop anywhere there is moisture, such as on walls where there is watercondensation, or in buildings that experience leakages or flooding. Mouldy smells from carpets, wood, and gypsum board are a sign that they contain fungi. Stale water in humidifiers and air conditioners can also lead to the growth of bacteria and fungi. Air filters also collect dust and contaminants and should be cleaned and replaced as the manufacturer advises.
A major cause of poor indoor air quality is a lack of fresh air – that is, not enough exchange of air between the outside and inside, which can lead to excessive humidity. Mechanical ventilation such as a fan or dehumidifier may be needed in parts of the home that are particularly damp.
People living in buildings where mould grows are more likely to suffer from health problems, especially symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and headaches. Asthmatics are especially at risk as mould may trigger asthma attacks.
Improving indoor air quality is fairly simple. Here are several steps you can take:
- Control the humidity and let more air into your home by ensuring sufficient ventilation. This will prevent moisture from building up on walls and windows. Where there is a lot of water vapor, mechanical ventilation such as a fan may be needed to get rid of it.
- Measure humidity by using a hygrometer (an inexpensive tool available at most hardware stores), to see if you need a de-humidifier. You are advised to keep the relative humidity in your home below 50% in summer and 30% in winter.
- Repair leaky roofs, walls, and basements.
- Clean mouldy surfaces with a detergent.
- Keep your home clean and dust-free.
- Regularly clean and disinfect humidifiers, de-humidifiers, and air conditioners.
There are many systems that can help with these problems. The HRV system is generally the most popular one that does a very good job into making a home a healthier home. Having a healthy home is a vital part to keeping New Zealand Healthy. Too many people in this country suffer from Asthma with many of these cases being avoidable by simply having a clean, warm and ventalated home.