Air quality indoors — Assessing it
How healthy is your home? Homes with indoor air quality problems pose more than just headaches for homeowners. Indoor pollutants can be responsible for and can increase a variety of health symptoms including asthma, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, dry or runny eyes, nose, and throats.
Solving indoor air quality problems requires identifying and solving problems and may require the help of experts. Homeowners who suspect they have a problem with the indoor air quality in their home should be prepared to answer questions to help the expert determine the cause or causes of the problem. The questions will include such items as: How many and which family members are affected?
- What symptoms or effects are they reporting?
- When were symptoms first noticed?
- Do symptoms relate to any changes in the house, such as new products, carpet, or furniture?
- Are the effects noticed more in one area of the house than another?
- Did any remodeling take place just prior to the onset of symptoms
Problems can result from a variety of situations. Here are several common things that impact the indoor air quality:
- Evidence of a combustion appliance malfunction
- Cleaning supplies and pesticide storage in the house
- Bringing new building supplies
- Smoking in the house
- Lack of exhaust ventilation for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room
If you notice moisture damage to your walls, windows or floors, look for standing water anywhere in your home, visible mold or slime on surfaces, in humidifiers, air conditioners or filters. Check the location of fresh air intakes in relation to pollution sources. The intakes may be pulling pollutants into the house.
Because the air quality in each home is so different, homeowners are encouraged to consult with someone experienced in conducting indoor air quality investigations. If remediation and repairs are recommended, an expert can also monitor the work to assure that problems have been properly corrected.
For more information, contact the Minnesota Department of Health - Indoor Air Quality at 1-800-798-9050.
Author: Diane H. Corrin, 1992. University of Minnesota Extension.
Reviewers: Marilou Cheple, 2002. Richard Stone, 2006, 2010, 2014.
Related publication: Home Indoor Air Quality Assessment CD-FO-3398, Charles A. Lane and Laura Oatman (1988).