Important Air Quality Facts and Statistics

Air quality at home is important for the health of you, your family, and your pets. Just like eating a healthy diet, breathing healthy, clean air is essential to keep your body working correctly and free of disease. Bad home air quality can cause a host of issues, including cancer, chronic respiratory problems, and heart disease.

When it comes to indoor air quality facts, Filterbuy wants you to have the right information. We’ve compiled information below to help you learn more about indoor air quality and air pollution as a whole.

Important Facts and Statistics About Indoor Air Quality

We spend a large portion of our lives inside, breathing indoor air. From your home to the office (and even your car), the air you inhale daily contributes to your overall wellbeing. Yet, the everyday person tends to overlook the importance of indoor air quality.

On average, you spend most of your life breathing indoor air. As explained by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Importance of Indoor Air Quality:

Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

In other words, the air you breathe indoors is often much more polluted than outdoor air, which has more room to filter and dispose of pollutants. Additionally, as our society and cities continue to develop, household pollutants have increased, leading to health and breathing problems. The EPA continues:

Indoor concentrations of some pollutants have increased in recent decades due to such factors as energy-efficient building construction (when it lacks sufficient mechanical ventilation to ensure adequate air exchange) and increased use of synthetic building materials, furnishings, personal care products, pesticides, and household cleaners.

Everyday household products containing potentially harmful air contaminants continue to be popular within the market. You may use these products daily, not realizing the potentially hazardous effects they have on your home’s indoor air quality.

Taking steps to ensure everyday harmful pollutants clear from your indoor air increases your overall home safety and wellness. Always make sure to follow the recommendations from indoor air quality professionals (such as the EPA and other reputable sources) and keep updated with the most current indoor air quality facts.

Clean kitchen with island and stools.

What Are the Main Factors That Affect Indoor Air Quality?

With so many indoor air pollutants present within your home, you may wonder what other factors affect your overall indoor air quality. While several variables can influence your air’s cleanliness, here are a few factors to consider:

  • Ventilation - Proper area ventilation is an integral part of good indoor air quality. The rate of exchange between indoor and outdoor air determines if polluted air can leave a space and if clean, unpolluted air can take its place. If you have poor ventilation, you will have a very low rate of exchange - meaning that the polluted air in your home will be unable to go anywhere. Increasing your overall home ventilation can help let fresh air into your home and clear your home of contaminants.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds - Volatile Organic Compounds (also known as VOCs) are substances that leak into room-temperature air from different everyday objects. VOCs are known to cause headaches and breathing problems, with some even causing cancer. Nearly all at-home air fragrances, such as those found in most low-mid quality candles, contain harmful VOCs that release into the air.
  • Outdoor Climate - Outdoor climate influences indoor activity, which in turn affects indoor air quality. When it is hot or cold outside, occupants are more likely to run their HVAC system, open windows, seal doors, etc. Additionally, change in outdoor climate can also influence mold growth and vermin infestations, which impact your home’s air safety.
  • Everyday Indoor Activities - Everyday indoor activities can also affect the air quality in your home. From cooking to cleaning, many everyday routines release pollutants into your home environment. While you may try to prevent contaminants from entering your home, the truth is that simply living in your home is enough to degrade air quality. This is why having a way to filter your indoor air (like high-quality air filters) is essential.

What Are the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants That Affect Air Quality?

Most particles released into the air have the potential to affect air quality. However, some pollutants are more easily identified than others and readily present within your home. Old and new homes alike may contain several harmful air contaminants within their walls, carpets, and other materials. After researching the indoor air quality statistics, here are a few common indoor air pollutants the EPA warns to watch out for:

  • Asbestos - Asbestos is a mineral often found in rocks and soil. Homes built before the 1980s may contain asbestos in pipe coatings, floor tiles, and other construction materials. Prolonged exposure to airborne asbestos is linked to several different cancers, including lung, larynx, and ovary cancer. It is also a cause of lung disease and may cause several other health-related symptoms.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) - Carbon monoxide is a gas produced from fuel combustion which releases into the air. CO affects your body’s ability to use oxygen, leading to suffocation or poisoning. If your home uses gas instruments, such as a gas stove or clothes dryer, there is a greater chance of exposure to carbon monoxide.
  • Cookstoves - Cooking using a stove releases smoke, gasses, and other potential contaminants into your home. If using a natural material, gas, or propane-fueled appliance, you have a greater risk of toxin exposure and symptoms. According to the EPA, “Exposure to household air pollution (cookstove smoke) leads to roughly 4 million premature deaths each year and is the 4th worst health risk in the world.” Wood, charcoal, and other natural component-fueled stoves should only reside in safe, well-ventilated spaces.
  • Lead (Pb) - Lead is a metal used in many older buildings and homes during construction. Dust from lead can cause many health-related problems when inhaled or ingested into the body. Those with high lead levels in their homes may experience irritability, illness, mental changes, and headaches. The effects of lead poisoning can build up or worsen within long periods, making in-home lead exposure especially dangerous.

There are several other factors that influence indoor air quality and the safety of your home. Ensuring that your home is well-ventilated and implementing quality, high-MERV air filters should help keep your home clear from many harmful contaminants.

Man with headache takes glasses off of his face.

Why Is Indoor Air Pollution an Issue?

In looking at indoor air pollution facts, contaminated air is responsible for many wide sweeping health concerns. Most indoor air pollution contains toxic substances, chemicals, or carcinogens. As a result, pollutant-filled air can cause several health disorders, including asthma and lung cancer. Without a way to filter out toxic emissions, your air becomes dangerous to breathe, putting you, your family, and your pets in danger.

If you believe your indoor air quality is contributing to serious breathing problems, headaches, or constant sickness, it's time for an expert to check your indoor air. This professional-level evaluation will let you know what is present within your home air (including mold spores and asbestos), giving you the indoor air pollution facts needed to improve your air quality.

Does Outdoor Air Quality Affect Indoors?

Fresh outdoor air can reduce the number of indoor air contaminants within your home. In particular, this applies to homes with good ventilation and a high exchange rate.

With this in mind, outside air can also negatively affect your indoor air quality if it is very polluted or has a high level of contaminants. In this case, there may not be clean air to flush out the toxins in your home, or the air coming from the outside leads to greater contamination. During wildfires, for example, outdoor air fills with wildfire smoke - a significant breathing hazard to those who breathe it in. In this case, you want to keep your indoor air as clean as possible or leave the area for a place with safer breathing conditions.

How Do Household Activities Pollute the Environment?

As previously mentioned, everyday household activities are a major cause of indoor air pollution, but they can also worsen air pollution. There are several reasons why this is the case, starting with the release of VOCs into the atmosphere. As described by the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department:

VOCs play a significant role in the formation of ozone and fine particulates in the atmosphere. Under sunlight, VOCs react with nitrogen oxides emitted mainly from vehicles, power plants, and industrial activities to form ozone, which in turn helps the formation of fine particulates. The accumulation of ozone, fine particulates, and other gaseous pollutants results in smog that reduces visibility.

Cleaning your home, doing your laundry, and other daily tasks usually also involves the emission of volatile organic compounds. Typical home cleaning products contain high levels of VOCs, which release into the air and impact your indoor air quality. Candles and plug-in air fresheners also contain synthetic fragrances, which release VOCs.

Cooking can also affect the environment and worsen air pollution. Heating all types of food, fat, or cooking oils at very high temperatures can release toxins into the air. These particles immediately lower your indoor air quality and degrade your at-home air safety. If you cook using solid fuels, such as a wood-burning stove, these toxins also contribute to outdoor (also called ambient) air pollution when the contaminated air leaves your home.

Woman cooks dinner on the stove.

Important Facts and Statistics About Air Pollution

Air pollution is an issue for our own health and the health of our planet. According to the American Lung Association State of Air 2022 Report:

More than 40% of Americans—over 137 million people—are living in places with failing grades for unhealthy levels of particle pollution or ozone. This is 2.1 million more people breathing unhealthy air compared to last year’s report.

This finding indicates that air pollution is increasing in the United States, making it more urgent than ever before to prevent further emissions.

Just as air pollution occurs within your own home and city, around the world others are also exposed to contaminated air in their daily lives. In fact, indoor air pollution statistics from the World Health Organization revealed that there are 4.2 million deaths each year caused by exposure to air pollution. Air pollution is especially an issue within lower socio-economic areas. As WHO data shows:

Almost all of the global population (99%) breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains high levels of pollutants, with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures.

As these facts suggest, air pollution is a serious, global problem that affects the majority of people. Doing your part to protect your own indoor air quality can help prevent more indoor air pollution from entering the outdoor environment and contributing to ambient pollution. Follow the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization for updates on indoor air pollution statistics and how you can help prevent it on a local and global scale.

Air Services for Indoor Air Pollution

If you’ve seen the indoor air quality statistics and are interested in preventing pollution in your home, finding a more efficient air filter or increasing your air filter MERV rating may be the answer. For more information on air filter ratings and how to find the best air filter for your home, check out Filterbuy - the most trusted name in air filtration.

Filterbuy Local also offers air duct cleaning and dryer vent cleaning services that can improve the quality of your indoor air. Our technicians will ensure that particles are cleared out from your HVAC system and home dryer, preventing contaminants from entering and degrading your home’s environment.

Learn more about Filterbuy Local for air duct and dryer vent cleaning.