The Healthy House Institute (HHI) and Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) Release 2011 QuickGuide to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Share Article

Concise mini-guide with checklists helps consumers identify simple steps to make their indoor air healthier.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI)

In 2008, The Healthy House Institute (HHI) and the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) formed an educational partnership to help consumers understand the importance and principles of residential ventilation and indoor air quality.

Preventive measures, ventilation, and daily habits play a role in protecting indoor air quality at home.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI) and the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) have announced the release of the 2011 QuickGuide to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) - a concise mini-guide with checklists to help consumers identify simple steps to make their indoor air healthier. The full QuickGuide text is included below and the formatted full-color version can be downloaded as a PDF from the News section of the HHI website.

QuickGuide to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

Though invisible, air is the most basic, life-sustaining feature of your home. Preventive measures, ventilation, and daily habits play a role in protecting your home’s precious supply.

Threats to the Breathing Space (or 'Things to Worry About')

Dirt and Dust: Outdoor soil can contain fertilizer, pesticides and more. Tracked in, it becomes part of the indoor dust, which already holds dander, dust mites, plastics, possibly lead or asbestos from indoor sources, etc. As dust becomes airborne, these substances may enter the body and cause symptoms ranging from asthma and allergy flare-ups to even nervous system damage and cancer.

Mold: Airborne mold spores and mold fragments can trigger asthma and allergy episodes.
VOCs: Volatile organic compounds are found in cleaning liquids, paints, solvents and many more household supplies. They volatize or “off gas” into the air. Not all are harmful, but at high levels, many can cause a range of symptoms from short-term irritation to more ominous organ damage and cancer. The impact of lower levels and of mixtures of VOCs is under discussion or unknown, but reducing exposure is generally a good policy.

Formaldehyde: This VOC is used in a wide variety of household products. Manufacturers have scaled back — but in many cases not eliminated — its use. It is a known carcinogen and may also trigger asthma attacks and irritate the eyes and respiratory system. Off gassing can continue for years, decreasing over time.

Asbestos: Found in some insulation, fireproofing materials, acoustic tile and “popcorn” ceilings, these tiny particles can cause lung-tissue damage and cancer. Asbestos containing materials are harmless as long as they stay intact, but disintegration frees the fibers to enter the airspace and the lungs.

Lead: Damaging to the nervous system, lead can enter the air as dust. Blood lead levels have dropped dramatically since the 1980s, indicating that unleaded gasoline and strategies regarding lead paint and lead pipes are working. Continued vigilance in the home is recommended, especially if your home is older.

Moisture: Water leaks and high relative humidity encourage mold growth, dust mite proliferation and increased formaldehyde emissions from building materials, furnishings and other household items. These irritants can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.

Carbon Monoxide: Fuel-burning appliances and idling cars in attached garages can release carbon monoxide into the home, causing about 500 preventable deaths each year. The gas causes thousands more to become ill.

Radon: Radioactive gas can cause lung cancer — no smoking necessary. The EPA estimates radon causes 21,000 preventable deaths each year. Radon testing is quite inexpensive and almost effort-free.

Three Action Principles (or 'The General Idea')

Eliminate

Often, the most reliable method of protecting yourself from unhealthy exposures in the home is simply to make sure harmful materials and contaminants are not present.
Building or furnishing carefully with less hazardous materials, as well as proper cleaning eliminates many health threats.

Separate or Isolate

When removal is not advisable or not possible, reduce exposure by creating a sealed barrier. For example, tight wall construction keeps potentially hazardous insulation particles out of the living space.

Ventilate

Reduce remaining air contaminants by regularly letting stale air out and fresh air in. Balancing in and out airflows in this process provides fresh air for your family and prevents a vacuum from forming and drawing air from a dangerous source like the furnace exhaust.

Action Plan (or 'How to Stop Worrying & Love Your Home')

Regular Habits    

  •     Use a central vacuum that exhausts outside, or a well-filtered (e.g., sealed HEPA) portable vacuum.
  •     Dust using tools that don’t flip dust into the air.
  •     Declutter to remove dust harbors.
  •     Sweep entry walks and keep large mats at doors.
  •     Remove shoes when coming in from outside.
  •     Keep relative humidity at 30% to 50%.
  •     Reduce spray and aerosol cleaner use.
  •     Use low-VOC cleaning solutions and products.
  •     Run exhaust fans while cooking and showering. Open a window slightly if necessary to keep air pressure balanced.
  •     Air out bedding daily to release body moistures before making bed; launder weekly in hot water.
  •     Continuously use ventilation systems to provide healthful air in the home.

Annual Protections

  •     Replace batteries in carbon monoxide alarm(s).
  •     Clean and/or inspect furnace ducts and A/C unit.
  •     Sweep chimney.
  •     Inspect roof and repair as needed.
  •     Winterize outdoor faucets.

As Needed

  •     Test for radon at least once and as house settles.
  •     Fix window leaks — caulking, weather stripping, etc.
  •     Check for and repair plumbing leaks.
  •     Monthly to quarterly, replace central A/C and ventilator filters with MERV 10 or 11, or the highest-efficiency filtration your units can handle (see manuals).

New Construction & Special Projects

  •     Install hard floors or remove old (dust-filled) carpet and replace with low-pile, low-VOC carpeting.
  •     Use low- or no-formaldehyde alternatives to traditional particleboard and plywood building materials and furnishings. Substitutes include solid wood or outdoor grade plywood.
  •     Apply moisture barriers during flooring foundation and wall construction.
  •     Install a whole-house, continuous ventilation system.
  •     Build in radiant rather than forced air heat.
  •     Create or renew a 5% to 6% grade of soil sloping away from the house, for good drainage.

Hire a Certified Pro

Have a professional handle these in-depth tasks:

  •     Deep cleaning carpet and upholstery
  •     Cleaning chimney
  •     Home inspection
  •     HVAC inspection
  •     Mold abatement
  •     Asbestos remediation
  •     Radon mitigation
  •     Lead abatement

The formatted full-color QuickGuide can be downloaded as a PDF from the News section of the HHI website.

About the Partnership – HHI and HVI

In 2008, The Healthy House Institute (HHI) and the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) formed an educational partnership to help consumers understand the importance and principles of residential ventilation and indoor air quality.

About HHI

The Healthy House Institute™ (HHI) provides consumers information to make their homes healthier. HHI strives to be the most comprehensive educational resource available for creating healthier homes, covering topics in-depth such as air and water quality, building, remodeling and furnishing, cleaning and housekeeping, health and safety, ventilation, lighting, energy efficiency and more.

The Institute’s goal is to reach a mainstream educated consumer with credible information merging the best of ‘green’ with the best of healthier homes research, indoor environmental data, health and medical science, into a practical, timely, easily digestible but comprehensive message. HHI strives to be a truly authoritative voice that has the ‘ear’ and trust of major media, influentials, and most importantly, the intelligent consumer. For more information, contact HHI at 13998 West Hartford Dr., Boise, ID 83713; Telephone: 208-938-3137; Fax: 208-938-3138. Visit the website at http://www.healthyhouseinstitute.com.

About HVI

The Home Ventilating Institute (HVI), founded in 1955, is a nonprofit association of the manufacturers of home ventilating products. Through a Certified Ratings Program, HVI provides a voluntary means for residential ventilation manufacturers to report comparable and creditable product performance information based upon uniformly applied testing standards and procedures performed by independent laboratories.

Today, HVI represents manufacturers from the United States, Canada, Asia and Europe, producing the majority of the residential ventilation products sold in North America. For more information, contact HVI at 1000 N. Rand Road, Suite 214, Wauconda, IL 60084. Telephone: 847-416-7257; Fax: 480-559-9722; E-mail: hvi(at)hvi(dot)org. Visit the website at http://www.hvi.org.

###

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Allen Rathey

Jacki (Golike) Donner
Visit website