Is an Indoor Air Quality Assessment Important?

Do you think an indoor air quality assessment is important? The average person spends 90%+ of their time indoors. This is increased during the workday. Most of us understand the importance of eating good food and drinking clean water, but indoor air quality is rarely discussed.

Imagine which is more important this way. You can go 30 plus days without food, 3 days without water, but less than 3 minutes without air. To me, indoor air quality may be the most important and least talked about environmental health concern of our generation.

What is an Indoor Air Quality Assessment

An indoor air quality assessment (IAQ assessment) is a combination of answering questions and gathering data. IAQ assessments can be self-administered or professionally done or a combination of both, which is what we prefer. Getting the homeowner involved in the IAQ assessment will help ensure the assessment goes smoothly. It also helps to prioritize and assure that improvements are made.

Identify the Problems with Your Home’s Air Quality

The indoor air quality assessment will assist in helping you identify problems and prioritize the issues in a way for you to ensure they get systematically corrected. Not having a plan is often what causes failure among projects, families, and organizations. Once the action plan is created, you can decide to tackle these items yourself or seek professionals to perform these corrections for you. Here are some of the benefits associated with inspecting and improving the indoor air quality in your home.

  • Potential Decrease in Adverse Health Effects
  • Decrease in Absentee Rates at Work and School
  • Improved Personal Productivity and Performance
  • Cleaner Smelling Environment with Less Odors
  • Increase Comfort Evenly Through the Home
  • Improve Energy Efficiency of the Home
  • Potentially Lower Energy Costs

Decrease Adverse Health Effects

If one person in your home is sick, it affects all of your family members. Addressing indoor air quality (IAQ) issues like indoor allergens is important. But eliminating pathogens, VOCs, carbon monoxide, and radon is vital. Combine that with humidity control and your home may be ideal for possibly eliminating, reducing, and even relieving severe IAQ symptoms. Here are just some of the symptoms and conditions affected or caused by poor indoor air quality:

  • Allergies and asthma
  • Dust and dust mite production
  • Headaches from chemicals in building materials
  • Airborne respiratory infections
  • Itchy eyes and runny nose from mold, dust mites
  • Cardiovascular mortality and morbidity
  • Serious respiratory illness from VOCs, excessive moisture, lack of maintenance, poor ventilation
  • Chronic effects, including lung cancer from long-term exposure to radon, asbestos, benzene
  • Chronic fatigue from carbon monoxide or generally poor indoor air quality

By reducing the adverse health effects and exposure to harmful indoor air quality in your home, you may lower risks to your family.

Decrease Absentee Rates from School and Work

When you are sick, you are more likely to call in sick, which may affect your work efficiency and employability. Children who miss excess school are affected as well. According to, missing just two days of school a month for any reason-can create learning issues like:

  • Less likely to read on grade level, seen mainly in third graders that miss two days a month or more of kindergarten and first grade
  • Older students experience failing grades when chronically absent, even more than low grades or test scores
  • Children with chronic absenteeism are more likely to drop out or get suspended from high school
  • Chronic absenteeism is considered missing 10% or 18 plus days of school
  • Chronic absenteeism can also be linked to substance abuse and eventually poor health as an adult

Improving the indoor air quality of your home could have immeasurable future benefits for you and your children.

Improve Personal Productivity and Performance

If poor indoor air quality can decrease performance, it makes sense that good IAQ may improve performance and productivity. Studies show a slight reduction in temperature, relative humidity, and indoor pollutants can increase work productivity by 2 to 4%. The improved indoor air quality can help you be more productive by increasing energy levels and improving your ability to concentrate. High temperatures, relative humidity, and poor indoor air quality will increase discomfort, irritability, fatigue, and the ability to concentrate. Performing an indoor air quality assessment could identify issues that may improve your productivity and performance.

Cleaner Smells and Reduced Odors Throughout the Home

A strong odor is one of the first indicators of poor indoor air quality. This can be chemical smells from VOCs or damp musty smells from mold growing in a wet crawl space, basement, or bathroom. These odors are more than just annoying, they are a sign of an issue you need to address quickly. Your nose knows. Often your nose can detect what your eyes cannot see. Don’t ignore the warning signs of a home with poor IAQ just because you don’t see a problem. A home that has a neutral, unnoticeable smell is a sign of good indoor air quality. Plugins and deodorizers are popular but often used to mask the root cause of indoor air quality issues. Having too many of these cover-ups can make it difficult to notice the odors stemming from a problem like heavy mold in a crawl space.

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Increased Comfort

Good indoor air quality is not just the absence of pollutants in the air. A home that does not have excess humidity and moisture will also feel more comfortable. Often a person can feel uncomfortable in the home one day but not the next, although the temperature is the same. If you have ever gone to the thermostat to verify it is set correctly because you are hot, chances are it is because the humidity in the home has spiked. The feeling of being too cold at the same temperature occurs when the humidity is too low. A thermostat that holds a constant temperature, but you tend to feel warm or cold at different times of the day can often be linked to a home with large fluctuations in humidity.

Improve Energy Efficiency

Creating an energy-efficient home requires a plan. Coming up with a plan derives from an IAQ assessment to help identify parts of the home that need improvement. This can be adding more insulation, identifying outdated appliances, air sealing the crawl space, or choosing the correct steps in which to perform home improvements. It is common for homeowners to install energy-efficient windows but not air seal ductwork. Or install a more energy-efficient HVAC system without air sealing the attic or crawl space. If the home is improved in steps that optimize efficiency, you may discover a smaller HVAC system is needed. This can save you money on utilities, but also the purchase price of a major appliance.

Lower Energy Costs

An IAQ assessment may lead to lower energy costs. I did however list this as the last benefit on purpose. This should not be the motivator, but a hopeful side effect of improving indoor air quality. I say hopeful because even if saving money on the utility bill is accomplished, it will be wiped out over time. We have seen, and many homeowners have shared their utility bills with us. They have increased dramatically in the past 12 months. Saving money is a great thing, but improving your home’s health may have a greater impact in the future on you and your family.

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