Indoor Air Quality
On average, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors but don’t know that indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outside air. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has indoor air quality ranked as one of the top five environmental dangers. It is linked to severe asthma and allergy development in children and to heart problems and lung cancer in children and adults.
What are some symptoms of poor indoor air quality?
Symptoms depend on the particular contaminant and are sometimes mistaken for allergies, stress, colds or the flu.
Some of the symptoms associated with poor indoor air quality are coughing, sneezing, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, nose bleeds, sore throat, and upper respiratory congestion. Your air quality can also contribute to the development of or the exaggeration of some more serious conditions, including lung cancer, infections, lung diseases, asthma, and heart disease.
What are some causes of poor indoor air quality?
Indoor air quality is affected by anything that releases gas or particles which includes combustion, personal care and activities, and even outdoor air quality.
Inadequate ventilation will trap contaminated air in and can keep clean, fresh air from getting in. If you have unmaintained heating and air conditioning systems your clogged air filters and dirty ducts will contribute to dust and mites in the air. Dampness in your house caused by floods, leaks, high humidity, or an unmaintained humidifier or dehumidifier can create mold and bacteria.
You may be polluting your own air!
Your own activities can contribute to the pollutants in the air. Cleaners and personal care products are high culprits for this. Do not smoke inside. Cigarette smoke contains 7,000 chemicals and 69 poisons known to cause cancer. Children and elderly people are particularly sensitive to this, but it is unhealthy for everyone.
Burning of any kind of fuel releases particles into the air. Adequate ventilation is necessary to keep these contaminates under control.
The last thing to consider when looking at your own indoor air quality is the possibility for old or outdated building materials in your home. These poisonous building materials include asbestos and furniture made out of wood treated with formaldehyde.
What can you do to improve the air quality in your home?
- Ensure proper ventilation around fuel burning appliances like furnaces, fireplaces, ranges, and heaters
- Use proper ventilation when cleaning, painting, or using harsh chemical products in the home
- Replace and maintain the air filters in your home at least once a season
- Have your ductwork tested for leaks
- Clean your humidifiers and dehumidifiers regularly
- Keep your house clean by vacuuming (use a HEPA vacuum cleaner), washing bedding, and leaving shoes at the door
- Install a carbon monoxide detector, test for radon, and leave the asbestos to the professionals