Extreme weather events can negatively impact indoor air quality, which may lead to serious health consequences. With weather events such as heat waves, storms and floods increasing in recent years, air quality should be on every homeowner’s radar.
Higher Temperatures Bring Air Quality Problems
Intense heat waves can make it miserable to be outdoors, but it can also create problems for those who stay indoors. Heat may trigger various events that threaten indoor air quality.
Heat increases the production of pollen, which gets into the air both indoors and outdoors. A good air filter should remove most of the pollen from your indoor air, but a significant increase in the overall amount of pollen will increase the amount that makes it through the filter and into your home.
Rising temperatures, and the associated rise in energy costs, inspire many homeowners to improve their weatherization. However, the nature of weatherization—limiting the movement of air between indoors and outdoors—can worsen air quality problems. Super efficient and weather-tight homes rely entirely on mechanical systems for fresh air, and any problems in those systems can send indoor air quality plummeting.
Air Quality Threats From Storms and Flooding
Violent storms that cause brownouts or blackouts often pose an indirect threat to indoor air quality. When the power is out and HVAC systems stand idle, homes don’t benefit from the air filtration and dehumidifying that these systems provide. Furthermore, people who use back-up generators during power outages may run the risk of mild or acute carbon monoxide poisoning thanks to generator emissions.
When storms bring significant rainfall, flooding can create serious problems for homeowners in the short and the long term. Floods can cause significant water damage to furniture and other possessions, in addition to the home itself. Once the water recedes, the damp it leaves behind provides a perfect environment for mold. Undetected mold in crawl spaces or ducts can get into the air and cause serious health problems.
Climate Change Inspires Home Changes
With rising temperatures and dramatic weather events associated with climate change, many people are taking steps to protect their homes from the encroaching elements. However, we don’t always take into account the ways in which energy-focused changes may also impact ventilation and overall air quality.
Energy conservation is important, but it’s wise to consider your indoor air quality at the same time. If you make changes that will impact your ventilation or increase your reliance on central air conditioning, you may also want to have your ductwork inspected or invest in a better air filter.