The atmospheric conditions that lead to wintertime in Metuchen, NJ also impact air quality. Additionally, during the winter, people tend to spend more time indoors, magnifying the importance of good indoor air quality. A tightly sealed indoor environment is energy efficient, but it also minimizes air circulation and impacts the movement of fresh air. These things can harm a home’s or business’s indoor air quality.
Long-Term Effects of Poor Winter Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air quality can have health effects that manifest after years of exposure. These effects can include severe conditions such as cancer, respiratory disease, and heart disease, which can be debilitating or fatal. Families and business owners must improve indoor air quality, even if the immediate symptoms of poor air quality aren’t readily noticeable.
Several pollutants commonly found inside buildings during winter can lead to harmful effects. Ongoing research is investigating the concentrations and durations of exposure necessary before an individual develops health problems. Each person is unique, reacting differently to indoor air pollutants.
Short-Term Effects of Poor Winter Indoor Air Quality
Immediate exposure to indoor air pollutants can result in short-term health effects. For instance, entering a home or office with irritants can cause throat, nose, and ear irritation, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches. Fortunately, these immediate effects are typically short-term and relatively easy to treat. Treatment often involves removing the person from the pollution source and eliminating it from the building if identifiable. Certain indoor air pollutants can exacerbate asthma symptoms or allergies shortly after exposure.
When a person has an immediate reaction to indoor air pollutants, it could indicate a pre-existing medical condition, such as asthma, or be linked to factors like age, such as very young children or older adults. Sensitivity to the pollutant and frequency of exposure also influence how quickly a person may react to indoor air pollutants, chemical or biological.
Often, the immediate effects experienced upon entering a building with polluted air during winter resemble symptoms of a cold or viral disease. This similarity can make it challenging to identify indoor air pollution as the source of the sickness. Therefore, business owners and homeowners must carefully observe when and where respiratory symptoms occur. If these symptoms manifest away from home or the office, efforts should be made to identify indoor air sources that might be causing the problems. Many cases worsen due to insufficient outdoor air supply from the HVAC system.
How Does the Winter Impact Indoor Air Quality?
Several elements significantly impact air quality, including wind, the dispersion of pollutants due to precipitation, changes in air pressure, and fluctuations in air temperature. These factors are notably prevalent during cold, dry winters in New Jersey, contributing to elevated indoor air pollution levels.
Wind and Air Pressure
Air is almost constantly in motion, facilitating the transport of air pollution from one location to another. Low-pressure systems bring about windy, wet conditions, effectively dispersing pollutants. Conversely, high-pressure systems produce stagnant air, concentrating pollutants in specific areas.
Indoor and outdoor pollution sources, such as industrial emissions, persist year-round, irrespective of the season. However, cold temperatures and stagnant air, common in winter, can lead to a buildup of substances near the ground. This is mainly observed during temperature inversions, where smoke and pollutants are trapped close to the surface, elevating carbon monoxide levels.
During the winter season, prolonged indoor stays with inadequate ventilation increase carbon dioxide levels, impacting a person’s health and resulting in headaches and lethargy. Generally, outdoor air quality is better during winter than stagnant indoor air. Step outside daily or open windows for a brief period whenever possible. Additionally, regular cleaning and professional maintenance of ventilation systems and fireplaces can mitigate some of the adverse effects of poor indoor air quality during winter.
Over-insulating a home or office in an effort to improve energy efficiency can lower indoor air quality. Excessive insulation can trap moisture inside, impeding the circulation of fresh air. Modern construction techniques in cold winter regions like New Jersey involve sealing homes to conserve heat, reduce heating costs, and benefit the environment. While this enhances energy efficiency, it can pose challenges for individuals with allergies and create a favorable environment for mold and fungi growth.
Improving a Home’s or Office’s Indoor Air Quality
Homeowners and business owners possess the ability to enhance their indoor air quality. Individuals concerned about home or office air quality should engage with indoor air quality professionals, such as those available at First Choice Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. These professionals assist homeowners by presenting options to monitor and track indoor air quality. Valuable data from indoor air quality monitoring services aids home and business owners in comprehending their air quality and how it changes over time. Certain devices offering real-time information can be installed to enable homeowners and business owners to identify factors that worsen or improve air quality.
An essential part of a professional HVAC maintenance service is ensuring that air vents and spaces are rust-free, clean, and operational. This includes maintaining diffusers and registers within homes. Scheduling maintenance before the winter season may allow HVAC technicians to suggest upgrades or repairs that counter the effects of poor indoor air.
For instance, an HVAC professional might recommend upgrading the air filtration system in a home or office. Improved filtration is the primary method to enhance air quality and is typically the most cost-effective option. HVAC technicians can explain how filters function, stress the importance of regular replacements, and advise on the most suitable filters based on the requirements of a home or office.
Another upgrade offered by HVAC professionals is installing an active air purification system. These systems enhance ventilation and filtration efficiency, actively cleaning the air within a home. A whole-home air purification system can minimize pet dander, mold, VOCs, dust mites, and various other forms of indoor pollutants that may impact the health of one’s family.
In addition to these upgrades, establishing clean air habits is an excellent way to protect oneself and others from poor indoor air quality. For instance, individuals should activate the fan above the stovetop when cooking. Similarly, during a shower, the bathroom fan should be turned on. If issues such as mold or mildew are noticed, it’s prudent to have a professional assess the situation to ascertain its impact on indoor air quality.
Helping Make Your Home a Comfortable Safe Place to Live
At First Choice Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we’ve been HVAC experts in our area for more than two decades. Our NATE-certified technicians can provide fast solutions to problems you are experiencing with ventilation, air purification, and your HVAC system. We offer 24/7 emergency repairs and are proud to be an A+ Better Business Bureau accredited organization.
Our services include HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance. We install heat pumps, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, and ductless mini-splits and perform indoor air quality services. We are proud to work in both residential and commercial settings. Contact First Choice Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning today for HVAC services you can count on.