Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) | Deschutes County Oregon
Deschutes County can provide technical assistance to improve indoor air quality via telephone consultation or site visit. Please ask for help by completing this form to determine if you qualify. These ratings measure common indoor contaminants and are only generalized air quality profiles. We do not provide professional HVAC or engineering assessments. If you have special health concerns, respiratory illness, or unique situations, we can refer you to several local professional indoor air quality service providers.
Our IAQ assessment will provide you with a report on the six most common IAQ parameters and help you identify possible sources, potential remedies, and direct you to professional HVAC resources.
Temperature and humidity: The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) provides guidelines intended to satisfy the majority of building occupants wearing a normal amount of clothing when working at a desk. ASHRAE guidelines recommend 68 F to 74 F in winter and 72 F to 80 F in summer. ASHRAE guidelines recommend a relative humidity (RH) of 30-60%. Lower humidity can also discourage pests, mold, bacterial growth and the transmission of viruses such as covid-19.
Carbon monoxide (CO): is an odorless, colorless gas that is a byproduct of the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels such as wood, gas, and oil. Sources include heaters such as kerosene and gas heaters; leaky chimneys and furnaces; backflow from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves and fireplaces. At low levels, fatigue in healthy people and chest pain in people with heart disease. At higher concentrations, impaired vision and coordination; headache; dizziness; confusion; nausea. May cause flu-like symptoms which disappear after leaving home and can be fatal in very high concentrations.
Carbon dioxide (CO2): is a colorless, odorless and non-flammable gas naturally present in the atmosphere. CO2 is produced by the body’s metabolism and is a normal component of exhaled air. It also results from the burning of fossil fuels and natural sources such as volcanic eruptions. Outdoor air CO2 levels typically range from 300-400 ppm, but can reach 600-900 ppm in metropolitan areas.
Occupants may experience health effects in buildings where CO2 is high. At high levels, carbon dioxide itself can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and other symptoms. This can occur when exposed to levels above 5000 ppm for many hours. At even higher levels of CO2 can cause asphyxiation as it displaces oxygen in the blood – exposure to concentrations of approximately 40,000 ppm is immediately dangerous to life and health.
Particles (PM2.5/PM10): Airborne particles, often caused by wildfire smoke and vehicle exhaust, are tiny solid particles or aerosols that can be inhaled and cause adverse health effects. Exposure to inhalable particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Small particles (less than 10 micrometers in diameter) can penetrate deep into your lungs and some can even enter your bloodstream. People with heart or lung conditions such as coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), children, and the elderly may be at higher risk for PM exposure.
Chemicals (TVOC): Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a large group of chemicals found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes. Once these chemicals are in our homes, they are released or “released” into the indoor air we breathe. They may or may not be smelled, and odor is not a good indicator of health risk.
Common examples of VOCs that may be present in our daily lives are: benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, tetrachlorethylene, toluene and xylene.
what you can do now
Good outdoor air quality – No smoke
- Open windows and doors to let in fresh air
- Increase the amount of outside air drawn in through the HVAC system
- Clean to get rid of dust and pet hair
- No smoking inside
- Have your HVAC system assessed by a specialist
- Use MERV 13 filters
- Use portable HEPA air purifiers
- Reduce time spent outdoors
- Close windows and doors
- Use a high efficiency filter (MERV 13/HEPA)
- Wear an N95 mask
- Use portable HEPA air purifiers
- Make Your Own Box Fan Air Filter
- Avoid smoking tobacco, using wood-burning stoves, burning candles or vacuuming
Jeff Freund, RS/REHS