It’s summer! Fresh breezes are blowing through the open windows and clearing out all those indoor air pollutants that built up over the winter months, right? Only, maybe not. If you’re in a traditionally heated and cooled home in California, you’re probably cranking up the air conditioning right about now. Worse, you’re keeping the doors and windows firmly closed against California’s terrible smog and wildfire season.
Unfortunately, summer months can have a worsening effect on indoor air quality if you’re using an AC unit. Beating the summer heat with air conditioning causes high humidity at the unit site, increasing the chance of mold. Closed windows and doors mean toxic chemicals, dust, and other airborne particles are stuck inside and accumulating from poor ventilation.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and indoor air pollutants that can build up in your home and diminish your indoor air quality over the summer come from:
Worse news, in California, a spike in ground-level ozone levels during the summer has given us the dubious honor of holding all the top spots on “worst air in the country” lists. Santa Clara gets an F rating on air quality. So, even if you wanted to open up some windows to ventilate your house and reduce the concentration of indoor air pollutants, you wouldn’t be in much better shape.
Ozone in our atmosphere is a good thing. It acts as a shield, filtering harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching Earth’s surface. This is called “stratospheric” ozone. Closer to the surface, ground-level or “tropospheric” ozone is a harmful pollutant generally referred to as smog.
Ground-level ozone is created when VOCs and nitrogen oxides interact in hot, sunny environments. As human activities like burning fossil fuels and other types of energy consumption diminish our stratospheric ozone levels, in turn, they increase our tropospheric ones. The rise in ozone around us is the cause of health dangers like lung disease, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.
Ironically, ionic air purifiers designed to mitigate indoor air pollutants like VOCs are actually contributing to the increase in ozone. A better way to manage indoor air pollutants during the summer months is through a combination of source control, ventilation, and filtration.
Passive house principles can reduce or eliminate the need to run unhealthy AC units, keep outdoor air pollution from entering the home in the first place, and thoroughly filter and refresh the indoor air on a regular basis. At Clarum, our modern, custom homes are built with the passive house techniques and principles designed to prioritize health and comfort. Indoor air quality is assured through eliminating the causes of indoor pollution (source control), properly ventilating a home in all seasons (ventilation) and filtering out toxins that find their way into the house through other means (filtration).
At Clarum our modern custom homes are built with the most innovative and sustainable HVAC systems and building materials. Our attention to these details means your family will enjoy fresh, healthy and comfortable air, no matter what the smog advisory is this summer.
To learn more about our commitment to modern, sustainable design and toxin-free living, please call us at 650.322.7069.