As we approach winter, anticipate and prepare for many colder days ahead to spend indoors. During the winter, staying at home and staying warm and cozy may seem appealing. Unfortunately, it may also mean increased exposure to indoor pollution caused by poor air quality.
Wintertime IAQ problems: what causes them?
The significant drop in temperature that occurs during winter impacts the movement of air and its dynamics. As a result of cold weather, warm air in the atmosphere rises, trapping cold air – along with pollutants such as smoke, dust, and ozone – in the air we breathe. Known as a “temperature inversion,” this happens when warm air sits above colder air, trapping pollution and allergens. This is how things like smoke and carbon dioxide can stay around for long periods of time. It typically occurs in areas where wood is burned in the winter months.
Modern homes are equipped with a lot of insulation, which compounds the problem. Our homes stay warm during the winter due to insulation which traps air inside. If there is little to no outside airflow, contaminants will stay inside and accumulate instead of being naturally circulated by the outside air. Indoor pollutants circulate and multiply, causing headaches, allergies, and other respiratory disorders.
The things we do and the products we bring into our homes also contribute to indoor air quality during the winter. There is increased use of cars, wood and candle burning in the home, and cooking using gas-fired stoves and ranges. Many pollutants are released into the air during these activities. These include smoke, dust, carbon dioxide, and others.
Additionally, indoor humidity can be particularly challenging during the winter. You may eventually feel the effects of dry air in your home due to the cold weather. Even well-insulated homes can let cold drafts in through poorly sealed doors and windows. The result is dry indoor air that can cause dry skin, eyes, and throats and weaken our immune systems. For this reason, humidifiers are used. The most common mistake that people make, however, is not taking into account their home’s humidity level while using them. A high humidity level can cause mold and mildew to grow, which can have a negative effect on the health of your family.
The Dangers of Poor IAQ during Winter
Numerous studies have shown that low temperatures can make it more likely for people to get sick. In dry winter air, viruses and bacteria can linger and spread more easily. It is more likely for people with compromised immune systems to suffer from symptoms and illnesses such as:
- Strep Throat
- Cold-air-induced Rhinitis
- Respiratory Synctial Virus (RSV), among others.
It is important to remember that COVID-19 is far from over. In the midst of new variants appearing, protecting the air we breathe indoors is crucial for preventing these viruses.
Winter-proof your home by improving your IAQ
In order to deal with these indoor air quality issues during the winter, it’s important to start by identifying and understanding the harmful pollutants in the air, so that you can create strategies and equip yourself with devices that can help prevent their unhealthy buildup.
Even though it is always a good idea to hire professionals to test your indoor air quality, a smart indoor air quality monitor can help you continuously track the factors that can contribute to indoor air pollution during the winter such as dust, smoke, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, temperature, humidity, ozone, and air pressure. A good indoor air quality monitoring device should be able to provide you with reliable and accurate information on possible issues that can arise anytime as well as helpful insights to address them.
Preparing your home – and your family – for a healthy winter begins with knowing better.
Ready to make smart decisions about your home IAQ? #getuHoo today!