What are common indoor air pollutants?
Gone are the days when we would get home after a day at work, school or running errands and relax in our home, breathing clean air. Today, the EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, tells us that our indoor air quality is as bad, if not worse, than the outdoor air quality.
How did the indoor air quality for homes get worse than the smog and other elements outdoors? Is indoor air more polluted? Yes, with extensive research, the EPA has determined that we have two to five times more pollutants destroying our indoor air quality than there is affecting the outdoor air quality. In some instances, even 100 times more!
Our indoor air quality is affecting by cooking residue, fungal spores, paints, varnishes, and more. Other matters that could be lowering the indoor air quality in your home, school, and workplace are:
- Carbon Monoxide (CO)
- Formaldehyde/Pressed Wood Products
- Lead (Pb)
- Radon (Rn)
- Secondhand Smoke
- Wood Smoke
What affects indoor air quality?
In addition to the things we listed above, other factors that is affecting our indoor air quality, is the air exchange rate, occupant behavior, outdoor climate, and the weather conditions. Of those, the indoor air exchange rate with the outdoor air is important.
The air exchange rate is affected by the construction, design, and the operating parameters of a structure. These all ultimately have a contribution to the infiltration of air flowing through cracks, joints, and other openings of ceilings, floors, and walls. When the air exchange isn’t adequate, it lowers the indoor air quality.
How does indoor air quality affect our health?
The EPA has warned that the indoor air pollution issue is in one of the top 5 environmental risks to us today. With the well debated subject of climate change, along with increased humidity and precipitation, the indoor air pollution is exacerbated and promotes indoor mold growth. In conjunction with the bacteria, bio contaminants and dust mites, we shouldn’t be surprised at the growing number of people with allergies.
Indoor air pollutants are to blame for many that suffer with irritated eyes, nose, and throat. More of are complaining and suffering from dizziness, fatigue, and headaches, and anyone with asthma or other respiratory issues suffer even more. The poor indoor air quality of today has added to chronic health issues like cancer, heart disease, and other respiratory diseases like COPD.
How do you test air quality in your home?
For the DIY homeowner, here are three indoor air quality tests you can perform:
- Carbon Monoxide
This is an odorless gas that fireplaces, furnaces, grills, water heaters and other gas appliances emit. If the carbon monoxide is leaking and builds up, it is poisonous to humans and animals. A carbon monoxide detector will alert you to a dangerous high level of CO in your home.
This radioactive gas is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer, testing for radon in the home is wise. A naturally occurrence from uranium breaking down in the soil and then seep inside your home, it becomes a silent poison. There are at-home radon test kits available at local home improvement stores. You can also get kits at a discount from the National Radon Program Services.
- Allergens and Other Pollutants
There is a device called “Speck” that will monitor common pollutants inside a home. It measures the levels of harmful particles so that you can determine what you need to change in your home to reduce those contaminants. A reputable indoor air quality company will have this or a similar device.
Learning What and How to Fix Indoor Air Quality
Apparently, we have all contributed to the problem with our own indoor air quality, and we’re all wondering now, “How can I improve indoor air quality?”. The newer your home, the more likely you are having more indoor allergens and irritants affecting your family. Here are 3 suggestions on how to improve your home’s indoor air quality:
Keep the floors clean and fresh.
Allergens and chemicals accumulate in your household dust. Using a HEPA filter loaded vacuum cleaner, those toxins and others are reduced. Those other toxins include fire-retardant chemicals marked with ‘PBDEs’, the pet dander and dust mites. Mopping will get what your HEPA filter vacuum doesn’t, and you just need plain water with and a microfiber mop and dust rags. Keep a doormat at every door to catch what is on everyone’s shoes.
A healthy humidity level.
Nothing loves moisture more than dust mites and mold, so keep that moisture down to a level of 50% humidity and those allergens will be kept in check. A dehumidifier will reduce the indoor air moisture and control the allergens too. A few ways you can dehumidify your home:
- Crack windows while cooking and use the exhaust fan.
- Crack windows and use exhaust fan while bathing or running the dishwasher.
- Be careful with overwatering your houseplants.
- Make sure the clothes dryer is vented to the outside.
- Fix plumbing leaks inside and outside, especially under the house.
- Check the HVAC drip pan and empty it on regular basis. Indoor air quality and hvac systems are not best friends!
No Smoking Zone
Every home should be a no-smoking zone when there are asthmatic or respiratory patients. Secondhand smoke is the single most damaging factor to indoor air quality. With over 4,000 chemicals, a child subjected to 2nd hand spoke has an increase in developing ear infections, respiratory infections, asthma, and has been associated with cancer, and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Call 707-689-5128 today for your indoor air quality testing in Vacaville, CA.