What You Can’t See Could Be Making You Sick

The average adult takes more than 20,000 breaths a day. What many don’t know is that if most of those breaths are taken indoors, health complications could be imminent.

According to a national survey from Broan, nearly 80 percent of homeowners believe indoor air quality (IAQ) can contribute to certain health issues, yet only 44 percent are worried about the air quality in their homes.

Even though Americans believe indoor air quality is an issue, they fail to recognize signs in their home associated with poor air quality. Mold is the main issue two-thirds of respondents linked to poor indoor air. Less than one-third identified chemical smells, foggy windows and mirrors as factors leading to poor indoor air quality.

“We spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors; our home should be our sanctuary. Yet too often, homeowners overlook the warning signs of poor indoor air quality, attributing it instead to everything from asthma to the common cold,” said Michelle Gross, Senior Global Director of Channel Marketing, Services, and Digital.

The factors that negatively impact indoor air quality are not well known, and most homeowners do not associate allergy symptoms, lingering food odors or foggy bathroom mirrors with unhealthy indoor air. Less than half of homeowners know that the lack of a bathroom fan and range hood has a negative impact on IAQ. They also don’t realize that other contributors to poor IAQ include using a fireplace, running central heating and cooling systems, cooking often or lighting a candle.

Research shows homeowners do care about moisture in their homes and lingering odors, however not in relation to IAQ. Many admit they would feel embarrassed about their guestroom being smelly or damp or if a guest noticed an odor in their home. They view these warning signs as inconvenient problems or household issues but there is still a disconnect: homeowners don’t see these problems as a reflection of their IAQ.

Educating homeowners on the causes and signs of unhealthy air is the first step towards empowering them to take action. Improving IAQ and related health issues is a matter of a few simple steps. Air flow and proper ventilation are vital to sustaining healthy indoor air. While most American homeowners own appliances that promote air flow, few use them properly. And with homes being built tighter than ever, there is less fresh air being circulated.

“Bath fans and range hoods are the easiest ways to drastically improve indoor air quality,” said home improvement expert and Broan partner, Danny Lipford. “The key is to use them every time you shower or cook, leave them on for 10 minutes after you’ve finished, and replace them every 10 years.”

Beyond spot ventilation, there are also whole-house, balanced systems that equalize indoor air pressure and remove stale air from the home. These systems may introduce fresh air alone, or include Heat Recovery (HRV) or Energy Recovery (ERV) features. BROAN models include HEPA filtration and are energy efficient.

To further improve indoor air quality, homeowners should maintain a regular cleaning schedule that includes vacuuming (especially door mats), removing shoes upon entering the home and frequently washing linens in hot water.

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