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An Inside Look at why Indoor Air Quality has Suffered During the COVID-19 Pandemic

indoor air quality

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused all sorts of problems.  However, most people are unaware the pandemic has led to a significant reduction in indoor air quality.  This is a serious issue as the quality of indoor air is of the utmost importance as people spend that much more time quarantining indoors.  Add in the fact that we have transitioned to an on-demand society in which work is performed in the house and groceries/meals are delivered right to the front door and there is even more reason to be hyper-focused on the quality of indoor air.

The Reduction in the Quality of Indoor Air

Naresh Kumar, a public health academician with the University of Miami, placed environment sensors in homes throughout Miami and Baltimore during the pandemic to record air quality levels.  Sadly, the results of this study revealed high levels of carbon monoxide, particulate matter and other harmful substances across two months in which people primarily remained indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.  This is concerning as most people have spent the vast majority of their time within the home during the past 15 months. 

Kumar’s specialized sensors were positioned in 30 residential homes during the study.  These sensors gathered data in April and May of 2020 when people remained inside to comply with coronavirus lockdown orders.  Unfortunately, the results of the study reveal the homes involved in the study had elevated levels of substances that pose a threat to human and pet health.  These nasty substances significantly reduced the cleanliness and quality of indoor air.  Kumar insists the shutdown orders meant to decrease the spread of the coronavirus caused the reduction in the quality of indoor air. 

Though Kumar’s findings are preliminary, the findings stemming from the information gleaned from environmental sensors are concerning to say the least.  The spike in the level of fine particulate indoor air pollution increased by 30% across the two months.  Furthermore, Kumar determined the concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and ammonia jumped by 4%, 15%, and 2.7%, respectively.  

Why Indoor Air Quality is Declining 

The actions of housebound people during the pandemic contributed to the rise in harmful air particulates.  Restaurants were limited to takeout during this period, spurring that many more people to perform DIY cooking in the home, typically with gas-powered ranges that generated carbon monoxide due to ineffective exhaust hoods. 

Disinfecting was taken to new heights during the pandemic, unleashing chemicals throughout the home.  As an example, cleaning products typically have ammonium chloride that is harmful to human health.  In fact, the poison control center indicates there was a 20% spike in calls during the period from January to March compared to the same time period in the prior year.  The bottom line is indoor air quality is not regulated, meaning it is likely to continue to be poor as people spend that much more time in the home.  Poor indoor air quality has the potential to spur toxic conditions that lead to illnesses ranging from C.O.P.D. to asthma, cardiopulmonary disease and additional respiratory issues. 

The sad truth is our outdoor air quality is increasing while our indoor air quality is decreasing.  If your HVAC system has not been serviced in the past couple months, lean on our heating and cooling specialists to do the work on your behalf.  We provide ac maintenance and plenty more.  Temperature running high, call the Doctor!