Methods of improving Indoor Air Quality
There are three approaches to improving indoor air quality. They are source control, improved ventilation, and air cleaning or ultraviolet air purification
Source control is usually the easiest, most effective, and least expensive method of promoting good indoor air quality.
This includes minimizing the use of household chemicals. Also, limiting smoking or the use of unvented appliances can make a big impact. The choice of materials in building products can be a big factor. It may be necessary to have the home's ducts cleaned to remove existing contaminants.
The next method, of improving indoor air quality, is improved ventilation. This is a process of replacing a portion of the home's inside air with fresh air from outside. This dilutes the concentration of pollutants in the home's air.
The uncontrolled exchange of air between the inside and the outside of the home is called infiltration. In older homes, this infiltration was sufficient to maintain healthy air inside but heating and cooling bills were higher because of it.
Modern home building practices minimize this infiltration and therefore concentrations of pollutants can build up over time. The earliest solution to this problem was to leave a window open slightly to allow fresh air in. Today, that is not a practical solution from a security standpoint.
The easiest and least expensive way to accomplish this is by installing and using bath fans and range hoods. The most advanced bath fans include timed controls which automatically start the unit. This ensures that units run for a sufficient length of time each day. These things can usually be purchased and installed by the average homeowner. These fans will remove the pollutants and excess moisture as they are introduced. At the same time a fresh air duct is connected to the existing hvac duct system. The main drawback to this method is that the air brought in must be conditioned.
The other way of introducing this air is through a device called an energy recovery ventilator. These units use the air that is being removed from the home, to condition the incoming air. This saves energy and lowers the impact on the utility bill while still improving the indoor air quality.
The last approach, to improving indoor air quality, is air cleaning. This is accomplished by mechanical filters, electronic air cleaners, or ion generators.
Mechanical filters can be installed in the central hvac system. These are usually made of activated charcoal. This is effective at removing chemicals but they are expensive and must be periodically replaced.
Electronic air cleaners remove very small particles. Some are portable while others are added to the central ac system. These units work by drawing air through an electric field. This field charges the particles then collects them on a screen with an opposite electrical charge.
Ion generators are devices that produce ozone. These devices are usually portable and expensive. This is simply an oxygen molecule with an extra oxygen attached. We won't go in depth, but basically this extra oxygen separates and attaches itself to things in the home. Then it attracts the chemicals, dust, etc. removing them from the air. There may be some health effects from this ozone (research is being done). Air purifiers is a common term for these units.