IAC referes to indoor air contaminant. Indoor air contaminants include such things as mold spores, CO, CO2, radon, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde, asbestos fibers, ozone, pollen, fumes, vapors, methane, allergens, dust mites and dust. All of these things can be found in a typical 1 story or 2 story house and anyone who lives in a house and / or is a home-owner should be aware of them. These harmful indoor air contaminants come from various sources, which can be found through any house. Sources of indoor air contaminants include, but are not limited to: building materials, solvents, pesticides, glues, damp areas, electrostatic air cleaners, furnaces, barbeques, off-gas emissions from furniture, carpets, and paints.
Symptoms of poor indoor air quality include: irritation of eyes, nose, throat, and skin, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, allergies, sinus congestion, coughing and sneezing, dizziness, nausea. When we consider radon, mold, and asbestos as indoor air quality contaminants, we can see symptoms occurring after long periods of exposure. Radon is becoming more and more of an awareness among house building contractors, home owners, realtors, and property managers. Radon is a silent killer because not only do subjects of long term exposure to radon see symptoms after many years, but also because radon can not me detected by any human senses (smell, touch, taste, sight). Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in all of the United States and Canada. The only way to know if radon and radon decay particles exist inside a home is to test for it. Long term tests are more accurate than short term tests; however, a licensed technician can perform 2 short term tests simultaneously and thus produce a more accurate result. Asbestos is a contaminant that typically shows symptoms after years of inhalation. The asbestos fibers from insulation became air born when the insulation is exposed and disturbed. Improper attempts to remove these materials can release asbestos fibers into the air in homes, increasing asbestos levels and endangering people living in those homes.
Asbestos technicians or insulation technicians should be hired to remove the vermiculite and replace it with eco-friendly insulation. Professionals need to wear full body, air tight suits with respirators. Now if mold / mold is present in your home, it can release mold spores indoor the air, which can be inhaled and then cause various problems either immediately or later on. Generally a musky smell is associated with mold and it can be found in such common places as the bathroom and laundry room. A professional can take a sample of your indoor air in the room where you think mold is present and then analyze that sample for mold. Sometimes a house can have great ventilation, air exchangers, and air purifiers, yet the occupants will still feel congested or have a hard time breathing. To know for sure if mold is present in the air, a bulk air test needs to be performed. Generally, indoor airborne mold concentrations are compared with those of outdoor. The presence of one or more species of mold indoors, but not outdoors, suggests presence of a growth source in the building. This comparison may not be possible during winter since outside concentrations may be below the detection limits as mold growth is slowed by the cold weather. The principles used for comparing outside air with indoor air will be the same as the ones used to compare the test rooms with the control rooms.
Other forms of indoor air contaminants exist like VOCs, which come from such things as air fresheners, paints, solvents, perfumes, smoking, glues, nail polish, and cleaning solutions. The solution to this problem is simple. Eliminate these sources in your house. Move the paints and solvents to a shed or garage with proper ventilation. Throw out or give away your cleaning products and use all natural, eco-friendly cleaning mixture that contain absolutely no VOCs. If there are VOCs that you can not physically remove from your house, especially in one particular area – maybe because they come from the building materials like glue and paint – then maybe a portable air purifier established in that particular area would suffice. Quit smoking or smoke outdoors. Also, remember that at one time, furniture manufacturers were required to put formaldehydes in their future. The purpose of this was to make the furniture flame retardant so that if a smoker falls sleep on their couch with a lit cigarette, it will not catch the couch on fire. Get rid of perfumes and air fresheners. Use essential oils with a diffuser or air purifier. This will not only put a calm, relaxing aroma into the air, but it will kill bacteria and germs in the air and thus, allow you to breathe cleaner, healthier air.
So you can see that indoor air contaminants come from many different sources within any typical house. The first solution to any indoor air contaminant is to remove the source of that contaminant. Follow that up with proper control of indoor environmental variables. What I refer to here are such things as: temperature, humidity, proper ventilation (mechanical or natural), radon mitigation system, furnace quality and general condition, structure of house and its building material integrity. Next, monitor your indoor air quality by monitoring the indoor air particulates and emissions. Also, an HRV can remove moisture from the inside air as it exchanges stale, inside air with fresh, outside air. Usually HRVs come with a humidistat. Many people I have talked to in the HVAC industry like HRVs, even when they only need to use them at night when the humidity levels increase.
Now you can fight back against indoor air contaminants. Never hesitate to contact a professional if you have any unanswered questions. Be safe and do not wait to get your indoor air treated!