IAQ and Climate Readiness
Climate change presents many challenges, including the production of severe weather events. These events and efforts to minimize their effects through weatherization can adversely affect indoor environments.
Extreme temperatures, increased precipitation, and storm severity can lead to increased humidity and mold growth, droughts and wildfires, and proliferation of pests.
- In areas with more precipitation, there is an increased risk of
flooding and dampness indoors — the perfect environment for mold growth. Exposure to
mold can lead to respiratory problems, such as asthma and allergies.
- Some areas may experience higher temperatures and less precipitation, resulting in more droughts and wildfires. This can result in more
particulate air pollution, such as dust and smoke. The particulate air pollution can
enter buildings and homes, affecting lung and heart health.
- Changes in temperature and flooding can drive pests indoors looking for shelter and food. Additionally, pest infestations are often combated with pesticides that are toxic to people, too.
Weatherization and Ventilation
More people are weatherizing (sealing and insulating) their homes and buildings to offset outdoor temperature changes and to help save energy by reducing the need for heating and cooling changes. Ventilation is an important part of a building’s heating and cooling system because it helps reduce indoor pollutants. Weatherizing without maintaining proper ventilation can negatively affect indoor air.
- Moisture accumulates inside homes during everyday activities such as cooking, taking showers, and hanging wet laundry which increases the relative humidity level indoors. Without air ventilation, the humidity level remains high and can provide a breeding ground for
mold, mites and bacteria.
- Poor ventilation also can lead to increased indoor exposure to pollutants
— carbon monoxide,
secondhand smoke or
volatile organic compounds, also know as VOCs — because there isn’t any
exchange with outdoor air to dilute or remove the concentration of the pollutants.
- If there is an increase in mold, bacteria or other pests due to higher humidity levels or changes in outdoor temperatures, people may use chemical products to combat infestations.
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