At the Making a Healthier Home: Improving Indoor Air Quality & Comfort event Sunday, Jeffery Liang, speaker and StopWaste senior program services specialist, spoke about indoor air quality and ways to improve it.
The event was hosted by the city of Albany’s Sustainability Division, the Berkeley Office of Energy & Sustainable Development, the Ecology Center and the Bay Area Regional Energy Network. Although many remain concerned about outdoor air quality, Liang said in his presentation indoor air quality should be of equal concern.
“According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), indoor air quality is two to five times worse than outdoor air quality,” Liang said in his presentation. “We are justifiably concerned about the fires and wildfires and the smoke from those events, but what we breathe in every day can be worse than what we see outside.”
People typically spend 90% of their day indoors, increasing their exposure to poor indoor air quality, according to Liang. He also said indoor air quality “affects us constantly” and children are more susceptible to its effects.
Poor indoor air quality is exacerbated by moisture, temperature and dust, according to Liang.
The average duct system in United States leaks 30%, Liang said. He also added that “toasty” rooms may incentivize rats and other rodent species to come into the ducts and nest in them.
“There’s a joke that duct tape is good for everything except sealing ducts,” Liang said in his presentation. “As soon as it gets hot and cold, that adhesive starts to fail. Even by California building code, you are not supposed to use duct tape anymore.”
If installed incorrectly, insulation can lead to cold rooms, according to Liang. He added that ventilation is essential, especially when it comes to moisture, which can lead to mold.
Similarly, Liang added that if the venting of old air is not done correctly through water heaters, the air, which sometimes includes carbon monoxide gas, may come back into the house instead of flowing out.
According to Liang, some studies show that when people cook, indoor air quality in homes can exceed the worst air quality in some of the most polluted cities in the world. Therefore, Liang said it is essential to use the exhaust fan when cooking.
“If we can fix our homes so we don’t have these problems, we can make a huge difference in the health outcomes of our kids,” Liang said in his presentation. “Children living in homes with gas stoves are 42% more likely to have asthma. … All these things that we know and do initially for energy efficiency have a huge impact of how … healthy the air is in our homes.”