by Cheney Hines
Air quality concerns are not something many people think of in their everyday lives. The sheer variety of risks we face when driving, flying, working and playing are stunning. While there is not much we can do on a daily basis about air pollution as we go about our lives, we can exercise some control over indoor air pollution in our homes.
Over the past few years there has been an increasing body of evidence that shows the severity of pollution in our homes is much higher than previously thought. Since we spend most of our time indoors, the health risks can be great.
Those most susceptible to air pollutants include the young and elderly, and those with chronic illnesses. Ironically, these also tend to be those who are most exposed to indoor pollutants.
Sources of Pollution
Sources of pollution indoors are broad and varied. Particularly in a home that is not properly ventilated, foreign substances can back up and accumulate to levels which can pose health risks.
Some common sources of air contamination include:
- Radon gas, which can enter the home through well water, or from uranium in the soil, or rock on which the home is constructed.
- Tobacco smoke can be a significant health risk, even when no smoking is going on. The particulates and pollution from smoke can accumulate in carpets, curtains and even the general air in the home.
- Mold, Bacteria and Viruses, also called biological contaminants, can build up in poorly ventilated areas, especially those that accumulate moisture.
- Greenhouse Gasses like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are invisible, colorless and odorless, and can be deadly in high concentrations.
- Household chemicals such as chlorine, ammonia and other cleaning products can create noxious and even toxic fumes which can linger after the product is used. Pesticides are also a common source of indoor air pollution.
- Formaldehyde can be found in pressured wood products such as particle board and fiber board.
- Asbestos and lead are commonly found in older homes in the insulation and paint. These materials can cause poisoning and cancer if ingested or particulates are inhaled. If you have asbestos insulation or lead paint in your home, you should have these substances removed by a qualified abatement company.
How to do Air Quality Testing
Keeping your home well ventilated is the first line of defense against indoor air pollution. This can be a problem for many, as homes are heavily insulated to keep heat in during the winter months, and cool air in during the summer. It is, then, important to open the windows and use fans or air conditioning units to keep air circulating in the home.
Clean or replace the filter in your furnace or HVAC unit at least four times a year. Have an air quality inspection done annually, or more often if you have had problems in the past. Never take indoor pollution problems for granted. You will be amazed at how much your quality of life improves when you clean up the air in your house! If you need help with air quality testing in your home, give us a call today.