You look to your home as your sanctuary. It is safe and inviting. But what about the air in your home? Can it be dangerous? Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) isn’t something most homeowners think about, but recent studies prove that indoor air pollution can lead to illness. We want to help you take control by learning about the pollutants in the indoor air you breathe every day.
UNDERSTANDING COMMON POLLUTANTS
Indoor dust can include bits of organic matter such as plants, skin, soil, insects, food, fibers, and animal matter. It can also be parts of your carpet or furniture as they slowly deteriorate. It is estimated that one-third of the dust in your home comes from indoor inorganic sources like carpet fibers and the rest comes from both soil tracked in and outdoor air particles. One of the most powerful biological allergens in the house is caused by the feces of dust mites.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed in the soil. It can enter the indoors through cracks and openings in floors and walls that are in contact with the ground. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall.
Secondhand smoke comes from burning tobacco products. It can cause cancer and serious respiratory illnesses. Children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. It can cause or worsen asthma symptoms and is linked to increased risks of ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Combustion pollutants are gases or particles that come from burning materials. In homes, the major source of combustion pollutants are improperly vented or unvented fuel-burning appliances such as: space heaters, wood stoves, gas stoves, water heaters, dryers, and fireplaces. The types and amounts of pollutants produced depends on the appliance, how well it is installed/vented, the type of fuel it uses, and whether it is properly maintained. Common combustion pollutants are carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are emitted by a wide array of products in homes including: paints, cleaning supplies, varnishes and waxes, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, air fresheners, and dry-cleaned clothing. VOCs evaporate into the air when these products are used or sometimes even when they are stored. VOCs irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and cause headaches, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system.
Molds are living things that produce spores that float in the air, land on damp surfaces and grow. Inhaling or touching molds can cause hay fever-type symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes and skin rashes. Molds can also trigger asthma attacks.
Improving Your Indoor Air
Take steps to help improve your air quality and reduce your IAQ-related health risks:
* Change your air filters regularly.
* Dust and clean your home regularly.
* Control mold by controlling moisture. Wash mold off of hard surfaces and dry immediately. Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. Use exhaust fans or open windows in kitchens and bathrooms when showering, cooking, or using the dishwasher. Vent clothes dryers to the outside.
* Wash sheets and blankets once a week in hot water and cover mattresses and pillows in allergen-impermeable covers.
* Don’t allow smoking in your home or car.
* Control pests. Do not leave food or garbage out. Clean all food or spilled liquids right away. Try using poison baits, boric acid, or traps before using pesticide sprays.
* Read and follow all directions and warnings on household products.
* Ensure all fuel-burning appliances are properly installed, used, and maintained.
* Invest in an HVAC system air cleaner that works to remove dust, pollen, bacteria, mold, mildew, pet dander, smoke, and viruses, just to name a few.
Contact the experts at Helms Heating & Air Conditioning to discuss the most efficient and affordable option to improve your family’s Indoor Air Quality.