Indoor air pollution can cause serious health concerns, especially for those who have asthma or other respiratory illnesses and conditions. Most individuals don’t realize that they are bringing the sources of indoor air pollutants into their own homes. Some examples of indoor air pollutant sources you might be inadvertently welcoming into your home are air cleaners, pet dander, cleaning products, and tobacco smoke. Still more air pollutants may sneak in. Read on to learn more about how to keep the air in your home safe and healthy.
What Are the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants?
Before you can tackle the problem, it’s important to know what you’re up against. After all, if you don’t know what you’re fighting, it’ll make it that much harder to fight. Here are some of the pollutants you’ll need to deal with:
Mold is a type of fungi that is made of small organisms that can be found where there is moisture, such as bathrooms, leaking appliances, and roofs. In small amounts, mold inside of the home isn’t necessarily harmful, but the more it grows, the more spores that are released. These spores negatively impact the air quality inside your home.
Mildew is a form of fungus that grows on living plants or organic matter such as wood. It is most known for producing foul odors. However, it also leads to dangerous indoor air pollutants that can make people sick with nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that oftentimes comes from fuel-burning stoves, appliances, and heaters. Poor ventilation of this gas is especially dangerous because compared to oxygen, carbon monoxide has about 240 times stronger attraction to the hemoglobin in your blood. This is a problem because hemoglobin usually carries oxygen to where it is needed all around your body. If carbon monoxide is bound instead, your body doesn’t get the oxygen it needs. Constant exposure without treatment may cause:
- Heart conditions
- Extreme fatigue
- Pulmonary edema
Nitrogen Dioxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is the product of natural gas and kerosene combustion. This gas irritates the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat, and also causes shortness of breath. Long-term exposure to this gas can permanently damage the lungs.
Radon is a radioactive gas that seeps out from the soil and rocks under your home. It can enter your home through cracks in the foundation and walls, drains, or other openings. Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.
Secondhand Smoke contains trace amounts of 4,000 chemicals. Extended exposure over time can lead to lung damage and diseases like emphysema.
Particulates include dust, pollen, and pet dander. These often cause allergic reactions in individuals with allergies and worsen asthma in individuals with asthma.
Household Cleaning Products can also give off fumes. Exposure to these products without proper ventilation can lead to dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, cancer, and irritated eyes and skin.
Signs of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Given the potentially drastic consequences of indoor air pollutants as listed above, it is important to be aware of signs of poor indoor air quality. Abnormal odors are a good indicator that something is not right in your airwaves. A lack of airwaves is an indication of a problem, too. If your indoor air feels humid, stale, or stuffy and demonstrates a clear lack of air movement, your ventilation may be insufficient which can allow dangerous pollutants to accumulate and affect your long-term health. Additionally, a lack of air movement will create hot and cold spots around your home, detracting from your home’s comfort.
Your appliances can also be good indicators of air quality. For instance, if there is a layer of dust on them, the increased dust is an indicator of poor air quality. If your air conditioner keeps breaking down, there might be a larger problem with your indoor air quality. Similarly, damaged chimneys or flue pipes can be indicators of poor ventilation. The presence of mold or mildew is a good visual indicator that your air quality isn’t as good as it could be. Rising humidity in your home can contribute to mold and mildew growth, too.
Finally, your body can be a good indicator of your air quality. If you and your family experience an increase in aggravated allergies or asthma, there is likely an issue with your indoor air quality. Another sign is that you constantly feel sick while indoors but feel better outdoors. Pay special attention to recurring headaches, nausea, and skin or eye irritation. They are all symptoms of dangerous pollutants that can have far-reaching effects.
How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
There are a few things you can do to maintain your indoor air quality so you and your family can stay safe and healthy. First, you should change your AC filter regularly, ideally once every three months. If you have pets or other sources of increased air pollutants, you will likely need to change your AC filter sooner than every three months.
Next, you can check your air ducts for leaks to make sure the air in your home is circulating properly and that nothing is getting in where it shouldn’t. You will also want to invest in yearly air duct cleanings to ensure that they are not affecting your home’s air quality.
Another way to improve indoor air quality that you can put into use every day is to use cooking vents when cooking. This will reduce air pollutants from your kitchen. This is especially useful if you have a gas stove or other gas appliances. Finally, keeping rugs and carpets clean can minimize the dust and other pollutants that are trapped in the fibers of your carpets. It’s important to minimize these because they don’t stay trapped in your carpet. Anytime your carpet is disturbed, such as when someone walks on it, the dust and pollutants can also be disturbed and recirculate into the air inside your home.
Need Help With Your Air Ducts or Air Conditioner?
When it comes to something as important as the air you breathe every day, you want to make sure to maintain the best possible quality. Otherwise, you and your loved ones may experience major discomfort and even serious health issues. Our team of skilled experts at Cote’s Mechanical is here to help you make sure that your air quality is the best it can be. Make sure every breath in your home is a breath of fresh air; contact us to schedule an appointment or consultation today!