What is Indoor Air Quality?

Air pollution is a term most associated with the air outside of our homes and offices however recent studies show that the air indoors can be even more polluted than the air outside. With the average person spending about 90% of their time indoors it is no surprise that there has been a 300% increase in the asthma rate over the past 20 years and it has been linked to moulds (according to a 1999 USA Today Cover Story). The solution to minimizing the exposure to these pollutants starts with proper humidity control and filtration of our living space.

Mould spores enter the home through open doors and windows or on clothing, shoes and pets. Once deposited on an organic material (wood, paper, textiles, carpeting, etc.) the spore only needs the correct temperature and moisture levels to begin growing. Burst or leaking plumbing, leaking roofs, ground water seepage, flood damage and even high humidity levels without standing water can cause thousands of different types of moulds, bacteria and to grow.

Controlling a living space’s relative humidity (the amount of water vapor that exists in a gaseous mixture of air and water) can have a large impact on preventing moulds, bacteria, dust mites, viruses, mildews and other irritants. Allergens like moulds and fungi thrive in relative humidity conditions above 60%, leading to a variety of ailments including asthma, allergies and a variety of respiratory infections. Dust mites, the leading cause of allergies, thrive in as little as 50% relative humidity.

While humidity is important there is also the issue of airborne pollutants. Dust mites, mould spores, pet dander, weeds, grasses, pollens, and other allergens are floating in the air, perhaps you can see them floating about when the sun shines in through a window. A MERV-11 rated filter can remove particles from 1.0 to 3.0 microns in size from the environment and a HEPA filter is 99.97% efficient at capturing particulate from 0.3 microns or larger that pass through it. One of these filters mated with a blower fan of proper size can effectively remove a large majority of airborne indoor pollutants. Additionally there are also carbon and potassium permanganate blend filters available that remove odors, chemicals and gases.

Selecting the correct unit to treat your home is important. There may be one or more portable dehumidifiers in your home right now, but the truth is department store units just don't work for anything other than temporary small one-room relief. These noisy portable units are not only large consumers of electricity but are also typically underpowered for the space they are in.

Most portable units are rated for capacity at 80°F and 60% relative humidity, but a cooler location such as a basement or crawl space can be at temperatures of 65°F or below. Frost forms on the coils of a conventional unit reducing air circulation and the unit’s efficiency.

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