Indoor air quality
We are generally spending more time indoors so the ‘healthiness’ of homes is an increasingly important issue. Poor indoor air quality can have a detrimental impact on people’s well being, from a general sense of feeling tired or ‘under the weather’ to contributing to, or even triggering allergies and asthma.
A home’s air is affected by many things: off-gassing from building materials, finishes and furniture; excessive moisture leading to mould growth; inadequate ventilation; and poor venting of heating systems. Our daily activities also have a big impact – cooking, bathing and laundering produce moisture; many household cleaners contain volatile organic compounds; pets carry dust; and even equipment in a home office can produce emissions.
Today’s new homes are built to give you the best possible indoor environment – a comfortable, enjoyable home with clean fresh air, a comfortable moisture level, and no mould or lingering odours.
- Solid construction and design promotes healthy indoor air quality by preventing air leakage and moisture penetration. Eliminating dampness and cold spots not only increases comfort, but also prevents mould growth. Exterior walls are well insulated and cavity type construction such as brick veneer can provide the added benefit of an air gap that will assist in eliminating moisture ingress and provide additional thermal qualities. External sealing is extremely important – for example, a clad home should have cladding properly sealed around windows and where cladding abuts trims. An adequately ventilated home can help to prevent condensation, while open and spacious layouts promote good air movement throughout the home.
- Ventilation is generally provided via windows or door openings in external walls. Some areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens, use mechanical ventilation such as exhaust fans to remove moist air and cooking smells. The inside of the home is not the only area that requires ventilation. Sub-floor areas must be adequately ventilated to reduce the risk of mould growth that may be detrimental to building elements such as sub-floor timbers. Mould growth under floors can also pose a risk to the occupants.
- Heating and cooling systems should be clean and energy efficient in order to maintain good air quality and to provide adequate comfort. Systems based on radiant heat, such as hydronic heating, provide a clean form of heating with virtually no emissions. Modern gas and electric heating systems are generally given a star rating to rate their energy efficiency. It is important that gas heaters be adequately flued to the outside to remove fumes.
- Building materials that are environmentally friendly can reduce the amount of pollutants or contaminants introduced into the home during construction. These include non-solvent-based glues and grouts, water-based low emission paints, trims and cabinetry with acceptable levels of formaldehyde, and pre-finished hardwood flooring.
- Finishing products can have a long-term effect on the indoor air. For instance, ceramic and other hard-surface flooring doesn’t trap dust and mites. Cabinets, countertops and sinks are easy to clean with mild, non-toxic cleaning agents.
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