As climate change worsens, summers get hotter and hotter. Here in Utah, it’s a desert state, so it’s normal for us to experience hot summers. However, with temperatures regularly in the 90s and spiking to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a record number of days, this extreme heat causes all sorts of problems, including worsened air quality. Extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality in a number of different ways. Here’s what you need to know about the various ways extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality and what you can do to lessen its impact.
#1. Air Quality Is Worse In Urban Areas
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that urban areas are most susceptible to poor air quality, due to issues such as increased pollution, location, and “heat islands”. If you live in a city, extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality significantly.
This is because in urban areas, there often isn’t as much vegetation as in more rural spaces. It gets lost in expansion, paving surfaces, and building new buildings. This combined with the fact that buildings and narrow streets decrease airflow leads to heat getting trapped. These urban heat islands can be significantly hotter than areas with trees and more vegetation and airflow.
Urban areas also have worsened air quality because of elevated ground-level ozone formation, aka more smog. With higher temperatures, people use more energy in an effort to remain cool, which in turn, increases smog levels, leading to all-around worsened air quality.
#2. Less Rain = More Pollution
Another way extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality is because when it’s brutally hot out, there’s less rain and wind. This causes polluted air to linger, when rain and wind would otherwise have ventilated the area. As previously mentioned, ozone and pollutant levels rise during extreme heat, which is why heat advisories and air quality advisories often go hand in hand.
Many people try to do whatever they can to cool their homes down. For those with poor air conditioning, this could mean propping windows open in order to increase airflow. This worsens your indoor air quality.
#3. Smoke And Dust Infiltrate Your Home
Extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality by increasing the risk of wildfires and dust storms. The drier it is, the easier it is for fires to start, especially during the summer months, when people set off fireworks, park their cars over dry vegetation, go camping in the mountains, and more. This worsens outdoor air quality, which in turn, worsens your indoor air quality.
Smoke and dust, in general, are always concerns for air quality, but this is especially true when it comes to extreme heat. The higher the temperature, the more likely it is that your area can experience more severe and more frequent wildfires.
#4. Increased Mold Risk
Yet another way extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality is by raising the temperature inside your home. This, coupled with how extreme heat can worsen storms, creates a hot, humid, damp environment, which is ideal for mold to grow in. Mold can create all sorts of problems, from damages to your home to health risks, such as respiratory issues, due to how it worsens your indoor air quality.
With mold, there also comes the risk of other biological contaminants, such as dust mites and bacteria. All of these can worsen your indoor air quality, making it so that not only do you have the heat to contend with, but also more difficulty breathing and even more of a risk to your health.
#5. Power Outages Worsen Indoor Air Quality
Extreme heat puts quite a bit of strain on your air conditioning system in general. However, when it takes out the power as a whole, extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality by instantly reducing airflow throughout your home. This makes it easy for pollutants to linger. Many people turn to portable generators in these circumstances, but the carbon monoxide from improper use can cause illness and even death.
How To Preserve Your Indoor Air Quality In Extreme Heat
As you can see, there are many different ways extreme heat impacts your air quality. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve your indoor air quality, even when it’s extremely hot out. These steps include:
- Monitor the humidity levels. A humid environment is one that mold loves. Dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and fans can all help to reduce humidity.
- Seal any leaks and cracks. Hot air and exterior pollutants can infiltrate your home through any gaps, so ensure to seal any that you find.
- Keep the windows and doors closed. Opening them allows for pollution to enter your home. To ventilate your home, consider using fans and keeping your air conditioner in good condition.
- Service your air conditioner. The best way to keep yourself and to lessen how much extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality is to keep your air conditioner in good condition with regular cleaning and maintenance.
R & D Heating And Air provides professional air conditioning and indoor air quality services. We can lessen how much extreme heat impacts your indoor air quality by keeping your systems in good working order. To learn more about how we can help or to schedule a service, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!