Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality refers to the condition of air inside a house or building. Poor air quality can affect your health.

Factors that affect indoor air quality include:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Indoor Pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, household products (paints, cleaners) or building materials (pressed wood products, carpeting).
  • Outdoor Pollutants that can drift indoors, such as car and boiler exhaust, fire or chemical releases.
  • Ventilation and air flow
  • Building maintenance — poor home maintenance can lead to cracks and leaks, which can cause pest infestations, mold growth and building damage.

Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

Ventilation, which is bringing fresh air into your home, is one of the most important ways to improve indoor air quality. Increase the fresh air coming into your home and follow these steps for better air quality:

Eliminate Secondhand Smoke

Cook and Heat Your Home Safely

  • Increase ventilation and air flow: if available, open a kitchen window or use your stove fan when you cook.
  • Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. It can create deadly gases and start a fire.
  • Never use a portable gas heater or charcoal grill in a closed space, including a garage.
  • Report problems with stoves or boilers to your landlord.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every month and replace the batteries at least twice a year. Residential building owners must replace carbon monoxide alarms periodically.

Clean Your Home Safely

  • Open windows when using cleaning products.
  • Read and follow all warning labels and instructions.
  • Avoid using harsh cleaners. Use soap and water to clean surfaces, and baking soda to reduce odors.
  • Choose products that are fragrance-free. Avoid using fragrance plug-ins.
  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or with other cleaners. This can create dangerous gases.
  • Store cleaning produces safely away from children and pets.

Minimize Dust and Allergens

  • Mop and vacuum frequently, and use wet or microfiber cloths to dust.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
  • Place a floor mat at the front door to reduce outdoor dust.
  • Fix leaks to prevent mold. Safely clean mold if you find it in your home.
  • Use safe pest control methods (PDF) to get rid of roaches and mice:
    • Fix leaks and seal cracks and holes
    • Store food in sealed containers
    • Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids
    • Remove clutter and clean droppings and scent trails that pests use to communicate with each other
    • Don’t use fogger type pesticides

Keep Temperature and Humidity Comfortable

  • In the summer, ideal indoor temperatures range from 73° F to 79° F. In the winter, ideal indoor temperatures range from 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Use an air conditioner (PDF) or dehumidifier on hot and humid days and open the windows on cool or dry days. High humidity levels can lead to mold growth. Humidity levels should be between 30% and 60%. You can measure this with an inexpensive humidity and temperature monitor from your local hardware store.
  • Landlords in NYC are required to provide tenants with heat between October 1 and May 31. Call 311 to file a complaint if your landlord isn’t providing heat.

Renovate and Repair Safely

  • Use safe work practices and trained workers if any repair or renovation work disturbs lead paint or asbestos.
  • Contain dust during renovation or repairs.
  • Clean dust and debris with wet mops or cloths to prevent it from getting into the air.

Health Effects and Getting Assistance

Health effects from indoor air quality problems can range from minor to serious, depending on the type of problem. Health effects can include headaches, tiredness, dizziness, nausea, itchy nose, irritated eyes, and scratchy throat. The symptoms usually go away once a person leaves a room or building.

  • Talk to your doctor if you think you are having health effects from the air in your home.
  • Call 311 for information about Indoor Air Quality or to file a complaint about air problems.

Additional Resources

More Information