Spring is here. As the sun shines brighter and longer, it illuminates even the most minor details; the new blooms, emerging pollinators – and the dust bunnies on windowsills hiding in the shadows. With the advent of modern cleaning supplies, replete with artificial scents and unpronounceable chemical compounds, we’ve been told to wipe it off and move on.
19th-century Bavarian hygienist and apostle of clean air Max Joseph von Pettenkofer once ruminated, “If there is a pile of manure in a space, do not try to remove the odor by ventilation. Remove the pile of manure.”
While von Pettenkofer’s spring cleaning was likely more focused on the opening of windows than the maintenance of HVAC systems, the adage holds true. As a strong proponent of public health, he knew we must focus on identifying and removing bad actors in our homes rather than just covering up their results. Our health and air quality depend on it.
Cleaner air in your home means addressing the army of invisible assailants that thrive indoors under the right conditions. Our homes are like lungs - breathing in outside air contaminants through cracks in building envelopes, under doors, and through open windows, and expelling chemical compounds and particles from the things we bring inside them - pets, plants, paint, and furniture.
Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. The World Health Organization notes that poor IAQ has been correlated to asthma, stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
While outside air conditions hardly seem within our daily control, indoor air quality and microscopic mold outbreaks, fresh off the moisture of winter, can and should be addressed through regular inspection and maintenance in the spring.