How does air-tightness help with asthma and allergies?

by Cody Farmer

If you do any kind of google search on indoor air quality or asthma and indoor air quality or allergies and indoor air quality, you’ll find numerous links, reports, and research papers all pointing to the fact that, for most of us with the typical home design, our indoor air is making those conditions worse. Where do all these pollutants come from? 

 

Our indoor air contains all kinds of pollutants ranging from chemicals such as those in building materials - old or new – (leaking through tiny cracks and holes in walls) and cleaning sprays, combustion sources such as fireplaces and stoves, and natural sources such as mold and radon (which causes over 21,000 lung cancer cases per year).

Coupled with that problem is the outdoor pollution we all know exists: pollens, smoke, factory chemicals, car exhaust, more radon, and numerous other particles in the air. These outdoor sources easily make their way into any home that is not air-tight.

Now, you might be saying “I know all of that – that’s why I have an air purifier and exhaust fans in my bathroom and kitchen.” I wish it were that easy. First of all, air purifiers only clean the air in a small space, so that is not a whole home solution. Secondly, kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans only make things worse by creating an imbalance in positive and negative pressure in your home. That means that when you turn on those fans, there often isn’t enough indoor air to compensate for the power of the fan, so the fan pulls air from anywhere it can get it – which usually means air forced from the outside to the inside through those cracks and holes in your walls and ceiling pulling in attic air and building material chemicals – in essence, those fans INCREASE the amount of pollutants coming into your home! Think about it like wearing an oxygen mask in a smoke filled room – if there are any holes or cracks on the mask or it isn’t sealed to your face properly, you’re STILL breathing in that smoke! 

That’s the bad news…..the good news is that air-tightness in a home or other building can greatly reduce or even eliminate asthma and allergy triggers!

Building air-tight is KEY to stopping this infiltration.  Building codes say 3.0 ach50 is the loosest you can build. We build 1.0ach50 or less, even down to 0.2ach50!

Now, I know what you may be asking – that’s all well and good, but what about the cost?

Turning your building (or building from scratch) into an airtight building is a relatively inexpensive way to achieve significant energy savings, compared to additional insulation and window upgrades. The energy saved from air-tightness alone makes up half of the savings when compounded with continuous insulation and U 0.19 or less windows. 

In the long-run your air-tight building will be saving your health AND saving you money on your energy bills!

If you’re curious and want to know more, please read more here  or email us to ask questions!