Is Air Quality Affecting Your Health?


Climate change is a hot topic these days and for good reason. There is a direct correlation between our personal health and environmental health. As more rural areas shift towards urbanization, the negative effects of air pollution are apparent.

Earlier this year, the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii reported that carbon dioxide levels worldwide are at an all-time high in over a million years -- 415 parts per million and continue and rise. An increase in carbon dioxide not only contaminates the air we breathe, but traps heat within our atmosphere contributing to “high global temperature and other effects of climate change, like rising sea levels and unusual weather patterns” [1]. [1]

In more recent news, air pollution levels in New Delhi, India’s capital, caused the city to go into a “climate emergency” as toxic smog engulfed the capital and forced the airport and local schools to shutdown [2].

While New Delhi is an extreme scenario, air pollution and its effects on air quality pose a real threat to our health and safety. Now it’s common to hear about companies “going green” to promote a sustainable environment, but what about indoor environments?

Workplace Air Quality

Indoor air quality might not top the list when you think about workplace safety, but good air quality is necessary for employee’s health and wellness. According to OSHA, poor indoor workplace air quality is linked to a myriad of health issues ranging from headaches and fatigue to asthma and even cancer. Temperature, ventilation, moisture, remodeling, and construction, all play a role in indoor air quality. [3]

If you’ve been at your workplace for a while, picking out a potential air quality hazard is difficult. However, it is important to stay aware of any air quality changes that can affect your health. The common signs of poor air quality are:

  • Foul Odor. If your workplace has poor air quality, it is often accompanied by an unpleasant odor. This can indicate issues such as mold contamination or a gas leak somewhere within the building.
  • Allergy or Illness Symptoms Only At Work. If you find yourself struggling to get through the workday due to headaches or irritated eyes, nose, or throat, your workplace could potentially have poor air quality. If these symptoms are consistent at work, but go away as you leave, speak with your EHS professional and let them know.

Air Quality at Home

In the workplace, it’s the maintenance manager or building owner’s responsibility to make sure the air quality is safe for employees to work. However, that is your responsibility at home. According to, there are many different aspects of your day to day life that can open your home up to potentially negative air quality changes.

For many families, checking indoor air quality once a year is enough, but there are other circumstances where one time won’t be enough. These circumstances are:

  • New homes. When you move into a new home, you shouldn’t assume the air quality is at a good level. Mold could have gone unnoticed by the sellers and a new home may pose a serious health risk.
  • Construction, remodeling, or home repairs. Dust, chemicals, and other construction byproducts can drop air quality from healthy to dangerous levels in a matter of days.
  • Changing seasons. As the seasons change, air quality levels do too. blames this on the constant increase and decrease of ventilation and temperature. In the summer, windows are open and the weather is nice, while in the winter, windows are closed to help keep us warm. Fall and spring are often damp and cool, increasing the risk of mold and mildew growing in your home. 
  • Respiratory conditions. If family members have respiratory conditions, test air quality frequently to make sure air quality is at healthy levels.

A safe bet is to test your air quality any time you make a change in your home. If you have plans to remodel or renovate, test air quality afterwards to ensure your indoor air quality is in good condition. [4]

Air Quality Testing: What to do?

If you’ve never tested your home air quality before, it can be daunting at first. What equipment will I need? Where can I get it from? How much will it cost?

You can easily find indoor air quality testing kits at large home improvement retailers like Lowe’s, Home Depot and Amazon. These kits can test for chemicals, gas leaks, indoor humidity, and much more. You can connect these devices to applications on your phone so you can have your air quality readings in one convenient place. [5]

Depending on the device you purchase, instructions for testing can vary. To get the most accurate reading of your indoor air quality, consider combining your air quality monitor with a carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide alarms not only warn you about poisonous gas leaks in your home, but when combined with air quality testing kits, these two devices can give you a good understanding of indoor air quality and can help you determine your next steps to stay safe. [5]

Lastly, testing for mold is another important step in protecting your health. Small amounts of airborne mold particles are always found in the air. However, these particles generally do not cause dramatic health problems until they reach excessive levels. If you notice allergic reactions, a foul odor, or you see any mold, call a professional immediately to schedule for testing and removal. Leaving mold to grow in your home can turn a small problem into a big one. [5]

For more information on indoor air quality testing, visit Second Nature.


[1] NBC:

[2] Yahoo:

[3] OSHA:

[4] HomeAirCheck:

[5] Second Nature:

Tags: personal health and wellness , osha standards ,

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