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The best time to address indoor air pollution issues is when you are remodeling your home, or taking steps to improve its energy efficiency. Indoor air pollution considerations should guide your purchases of new building materials and furnishings. If you plan to disturb any existing materials, there will also be indoor air pollution consequences to consider.
The most effective way to reduce indoor air pollution is to eliminate, control, or reduce the emissions of pollutant sources. Improvements to mechanical ventilation systems can lower indoor pollutant concentrations by increasing the amount of outside air coming inside. Air cleaning systems can complement source control and ventilation.
Asbestos was an incredibly useful building material because of its heat resistance and durability. Unfortunately, when asbestos fibers are inhaled, they pose a significant health risk, primarily the risk of lung cancer. As long as asbestos-containing materials are undamaged and well-sealed, the material can be considered safe. If your remodeling project calls for the removal of asbestos containing materials, get more information from the Environmental Protection Agency.
If you have any fuel-burning appliances (space heaters, ranges, furnaces, fireplaces, etc.) or if you plan to install any in the remodeling process, take care to install the proper size, follow installation instructions, have the appliances inspected, and maintain them religiously. And, as consistantly, provide adequate ventilation.
Seal all the seams and joints of any air duct systems. Not only will this conserve energy, it will prevent contaminants from entering the ducts and circulating throughout your home. Air ducts that would normally be difficult to access may be attainable during remodeling. Don’t forget to cover indoor air duct registers during any work that might generate dust and debris.
A leaky house might seem “well-ventilated,” but a better solution is to make your home tightly sealed and energy efficient, and then add mechanical ventilation. This will ensure that you maintain control over ventilation. Outdoor air enters a leaky house intermittently. Mechanical ventilation brings in outside air and exhausts pollutants in a planned way.
To sum up, remodeling is an excellent time to address and correct any existing indoor air pollution problems, and to effectively prevent future ones.