When you hear the phrase “poor indoor air quality,” dust and mold may come to mind. However, there are several reasons that the air quality inside a home or business can be harmful and can make people sick. Failing to address indoor air issues can lead to serious health problems. Therefore, knowing what can affect the air quality in your home or business is necessary to correct the issue.


Dust is one of the most common pollutants that can impact the air you breathe. It does not take long for dust to build up on surfaces such as furniture and textiles. There can be many reasons for dusty air in a home or business. For example, when a vacuum cleaner does not do an adequate job of removing dust from the carpet, and if the unit does not have a HEPA filter, vacuuming leads to particles circulating back into the air.

Dust can also enter a dwelling through dirty ducts. Failing to change air filters regularly can add to the problem. Dusty air can trigger asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Dust mites, which are microscopic pests that feed on human skin particles present in dust, can also trigger respiratory responses.


When there is mold in an HVAC system, the spores get carried throughout a structure with the airflow. Mold spores are naturally occurring, but they thrive in moist places. It is not unusual for mold to grow when spores land on wet surfaces. Your air conditioner’s condensation drip pan is the perfect environment for mold growth. Water standing in a drip pan can allow mold to grow and enter your home.

If you smell mold odor, that means spores are present in the air. Like dust, mold can trigger respiratory issues. Mold can also increase the risk of developing asthma in some young children. People suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) may find breathing more difficult when exposed to mold. Mold can also increase the risk of infection in individuals with weak immune systems.


The spread of bacteria through air ducts is an example of how contaminated air can cause illness. In 1976, an outbreak of a form of pneumonia later called Legionnaires’ Disease was discovered after several American Legion Convention attendees became ill and died as the result of a lung infection. Bacteria breeding in the hotel’s air conditioning system was the cause of the outbreak. Air flowing through the ducts and vents in the hotel exposed several people to the bacteria, which made them sick.


Radon is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that occurs when uranium breaks down in rock, soil and water. Some areas of the country have higher levels of radon than others. Although radon can be present in any building, people tend to be more exposed to it in their homes since that is where they spend most of their time. Radon is a dangerous substance and is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Sick Building Syndrome

Although not technically a cause of poor air quality, sick building syndrome is a real concern. Some people work in buildings where they experience eye irritation, difficulty breathing, coughing and other symptoms. However, for most of those workers, leaving the workplace brings immediate relief from their symptoms. This phenomenon, known as sick building syndrome, is often the result of poor air quality.

Sick building syndrome can arise from chemicals given off by furniture, carpet or finishes in a structure. Biological air contaminants like mold and bacteria can also pollute the air in buildings. Poor ventilation is usually the reason these substances linger in the air. When an HVAC system is not working efficiently or does not have the capacity to circulate enough air for the size of the building, the air quality suffers.

Get Professional Help for Unhealthy Indoor Air

If you own a home or business in the greater Charlotte metro area where you think the indoor air quality might be unhealthy, it is time to get help to address the problem. We can evaluate your HVAC system and determine what is needed to ensure adequate ventilation and to mitigate your indoor air quality issues.

Don’t allow contaminated indoor air to cause your family, customers or employees to suffer needlessly. Call Putnam Mechanical in Mooresville, NC, and let us help you achieve the healthy indoor air quality you deserve. We also provide heating, cooling and electrical services.

company icon