April 1, 2015: Americans Wrongly Assume Indoor Air is Less Polluted than Outdoor Air
Survey Shows Americans Need to be More Indoor Air Aware
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A survey commissioned by the Filtrete brand of 3M shows that while indoor air pollutants are ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health, parents are not always aware of the steps they can take to make the air inside their homes cleaner for their families. The survey found that two in five parents (39 percent) don’t include changing their home’s HVAC air filter as part of their healthy living habits.
The survey findings show that Americans need to be more indoor air aware:
• Half (50 percent) of the survey respondents believe the air inside their home is less polluted than outdoor air. The reality, however, is that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times higher than outdoor levels, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
• While most people (91 percent) identified clean air as one of several essentials for healthy living, 76 percent admitted to regularly using items that contribute to poor IAQ. For instance:
— Scented candles (52 percent) may mask odors but also release small soot particles into the air.
— Gas stoves (35 percent), without proper ventilation, may emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde into the air.
— Fireplaces (24 percent) emit harmful particles such as volatile organic compounds.
• While dust mites generate some of the most common allergens that can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in many people, individuals with indoor or outdoor allergies are more likely to take medication (76 percent) to combat allergy symptoms than change their air filters more frequently (43 percent) to proactively capture airborne allergens such as dust mite debris from the air passing through the filter in the home.
Though many Americans understand the importance of breathing clean air, their routines and behaviors do not reflect healthy home habits.
Nearly all people (94 percent) know that changing the air filter in their HVAC system is essential for a clean, healthy home. However, nearly half (47 percent) change their filters infrequently, less than four times annually.
According to the EPA, air filters should be changed every three months. However, 54 percent of people incorrectly think that if their home air filter looks clean, they don’t need to change it.
3M notes that checking the air filter monthly and changing it at least quarterly will help improve a home’s IAQ while also helping the home’s heating and cooling system run more efficiently.
For more information, visit the Filtrete brand website at www.filtrete.com.
Publication date: 3/30/2015