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Symptoms of poor indoor air quality (IAQ)

Updated: May 1

Whether you live in an apartment, townhome, single-family home, an old home, or are building a new home, there are many ways to protect and improve indoor air quality (IAQ).

Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are a primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough fresh outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase contaminants, such as mold concentrations.

The resources on this page will help you take immediate steps to protect IAQ in your home and prevent IAQ problems during remodels, renovations, or when building a new home. You can also find resources to help building professionals and residents protect IAQ in multifamily buildings.

Symptoms of poor indoor air quality
Symptoms of poor indoor air quality
  • Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste, or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. The effects of CO exposure can vary significantly from person to person depending on age, overall health, and the concentration and length of exposure.

  • Ventilation System: Use and properly maintain your ventilation system. Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. You were opening windows and doors, operating windows or attic fans when the weather permits, or running a window air conditioner with the vent control open increases the outdoor ventilation rate.

Symptoms of poor indoor air quality (IAQ) are extensive and depend on the contaminant. They can easily be mistaken for signs of other illnesses such as allergies, stress, colds, and influenza. If you notice relief from your symptoms soon after leaving a particular room or building, your symptoms may be caused by indoor air contaminants.

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