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What is Indoor Air Quality?

What does it mean to have a healthy home and how can you get there? Welcome to the Healthier Homes podcast, brought to you by the fresh air experts at Broan-NuTone, where we give you the inside story of your home. Each week, join Dave Jones, Senior Marketing Manager at Broan-NuTone, for insights on breathing, indoor air quality, building and remodeling trends, and much more.

Healthier Homes – The Inside Story is a new podcast brought to you by Broan-NuTone. Join us for a deeper look into the episode each week as we help you better understand your home, the air you breathe and how it affects your comfort and health. This week, our Product Manager for Overture Automated IAQ System, Taz Khalil joins Senior Marketing Manager Dave Jones to discuss indoor air quality.
But first, what is indoor air quality? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines it as “the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.” In other words, the health and comfort of the air in your home. Now whether you're a self-described "homebody," an extrovert, someone who works from home, works from an office, or any combination of those things (and more), according to the EPA, we spend approximately 90 percent of our time indoors.
This becomes even more staggering when you combine it with the EPA’s data that indoor air quality is five times worse than outdoor air quality. If most of the breaths we take in a day are taken inside, with all of that breathing, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the air you’re taking in.
Poor Indoor Air Quality
As Taz points out in the episode, everything we do impacts our indoor air quality, starting with – breathing. We breathe out a lot of CO2. So do our families and pets. Particulates from dust, allergens, pet dander, and more can contribute to poor indoor air quality making it up to 100 times dirtier than outside air. As it starts to get colder, many of us will be relying on our natural gas furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters, ovens and ranges. Each of these emits nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide, among other things.
Cooking a warm meal on a cold night, while cozy, emits CO2 and other chemicals called volatile organic compounds - often referred to as VOCs. Harmful chemicals are everywhere (and not just the typical suspects like cleaning supplies). Candles, plug-in fragrances, hairspray- even mattresses and stuffed animals can also contain VOCs.
Don't forget about those hot showers. The fog on your mirror after a shower is a sign that you have too much moisture in your air. Without proper ventilation, too much moisture can cause mildew and mold formation. And if you're in colder climates, sometimes not enough humidity can also be an issue.
Good Indoor Air Quality
So, what is healthy indoor air quality? Like the definition above, it's best to break it down in the context of health and comfort. Healthy indoor air is free of the contaminants we listed earlier. It also has beneficial things in it. Fresh air in your home has the right mix of mostly nitrogen, a good amount of oxygen, and trace amounts of other stuff. In a future episode, we'll cover how to properly exhaust bad air out of your house and bring in good air.
Comfort, however, can be more subjective. It's no surprise that weather and climate vary depending on where you live. However, temperatures in the low to mid-70s with a relative humidity between 40-60 percent are where people tend to feel most comfortable indoors. This also happens to be a sweet spot to keep moisture, and the negative side effects of too little or too much moisture, at bay.
If you have ideas or questions, send them to us, and we’ll do our best to answer them. 
Stay well.
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