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Symptoms of poor indoor air quality (IAQ)

Whether you live in an apartment, townhome or single-family home, an old home or are building a new home, there are many ways to protect and improve your 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 by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants such as mold.

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.

  • 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 greatly 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. Opening windows and doors, operating window 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 very broad and depend on the contaminant. They can easily be mistaken for symptoms 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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