What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within buildings, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. Understanding and controlling common indoor pollutants can help reduce your risk of indoor health concerns. This page is intended to provide information and resources about potential indoor air quality problems and solutions.
Indoor Air Quality is Not Regulated
Like most states, Kentucky does not regulate indoor air quality. There are no federal standards for permissible exposure limits to indoor pollutants such as mold, wood smoke, dust, or other contaminants.
The Division for Air Quality does not conduct indoor air quality testing or remediation, but there are many private companies that do. For more information on indoor air quality and choosing an IAQ remediation consultant, see the EPA's Indoor Air Quality website or the American Industrial Hygiene Association's IAQ page.
What Causes Indoor Air Problems?
Problems with indoor air quality generally fall into one of these categories:
- Pollutant sources
- Inadequate ventilation
- Moisture and humidity problems
Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough 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.
There are many sources of indoor air pollution:
- Fireplaces and woodstoves, cooking, and tobacco products
- Building materials and furnishings
- Products for household cleaning, personal care, or hobbies
- Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
- Mold growth caused by excess moisture, humidity or water leaks
Unless they are built with special mechanical means of ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can "leak" into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes. If too little outdoor air enters a building, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems.
Molds are part of the natural environment and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Mold is not usually a problem, unless it begins growing indoors. The best way to control mold growth is to control moisture.
- Keep AC drip pans clean and make sure drain lines flow
- Maintain indoor humidity between 30-60 percent
- Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners
- Vent bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
- Dry wet areas within 24-48 hours
If you suspect you have an indoor air quality problem in your home, the first step is controlling sources of pollution.
- Ventilate: Increasing the amount of fresh air indoors helps reduce pollutant concentrations inside.
- Change filters regularly: Central heating and air conditioning systems have filters to trap dust and other pollutants in the air. Change or clean these filters regularly.
- Maintain proper humidity: The EPA recommends keeping indoor humidity between 30 and 50 percent. Higher humidity can increase the likelihood of mold.
- Find more tips at EPA's Indoor Air Quality page .