Shorter, cooler days mark the return of autumn. The temperatures are dropping, which means you can finally escape the dry and hot summer spell, but this change may also raise concerns about your indoor air quality. More time spent indoors causes us to be exposed to indoor pollution, which can negatively impact our health. Seasonal changes may pose an IAQ threat to our homes, so it’s important to prepare for them.
How can my IAQ at home be affected by fall weather?
Changes in Humidity and Temperature
Fall signals a change in the weather but the transition can be somewhat unpredictable. There are usually moderate temperatures around this time, but sudden spikes in temperature can make it feel like summer again. There can also be sudden cold fronts that cause it to feel much more like winter than autumn. The sudden changes in temperature can bring discomfort to your family and more importantly affect some indoor air quality issues that arise during this time.
It can also be quite challenging to manage humidity levels during the autumn season. Many people assume that cooler temperatures mean less humidity, but there are some areas where humidity levels can even reach up to 100 percent. It is also common for most homes to have their heaters on during the fall season, which contributes to the dry air. Too high or too low humidity levels can cause mold and mildew growth throughout the house, as well as increase the risk of airborne viruses spreading. In addition to respiratory problems, dry skin, lips, and eyes, these issues can trigger asthma attacks and allergies as well.
Dust and Other Harmful Airborne Pollutants
Dust is a constant problem in every home, but it can become quite problematic in the fall. The colder weather forces people indoors more, and heating and cooling their homes consumes more fuel. In homes with inadequate ventilation, this can lead to increased indoor pollution. Unless your HVAC system is regularly cleaned and maintained, dust and other harmful particles can be blown throughout your home if the ducts and filters are not cleaned and maintained. In addition to pet dander and dirty rooms inside the house, outdoor pollution can also create dust accumulations. There’s much more to dust than dirt, hair, and dead skin. These particles can trap harmful contaminants and reintroduce them into the home where they can harm our lungs and other organs when inhaled.
Allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions can be made worse during the fall due to the volatile temperatures and humidity levels, a buildup of dust and pollen particles, and mold and mildew growth inside the home. Symptoms such as sneezing, rashes, and breathing difficulties can only get worse when you are living in an inadequately ventilated home. Medication will only help to manage discomfort.
There are steps you can take to prepare your home for the fall season and its challenges.
- Spring cleaning is over, now it’s time to do a “fall cleaning.” Dust your home thoroughly and declutter spaces that can accumulate dust.
- Arrange for professional checkups and cleaning of your HVAC devices. Ensure that everything is in working order and filters are replaced regularly.
- Avoid conventional scented candles. Choose beeswax or organic soy candles or those that use natural scents or plant-based candles if you have to.
- Make sure to monitor the indoor air quality of your home and understand what needs to be done to improve it in each room.
- Use humidifiers, high-efficiency air filters, and purifiers to combat mold and mildew, keep the air from becoming too dry, and decontaminate recirculated air.
You can’t control the changes in the environment and air during fall, but you can control the air you breathe inside your home. The best way to improve indoor air quality is to invest in it.