In the US, the top-five air contaminants all derive from indoor pollutants, such as dust particles, moisture excess, combustion products, bacteria, viruses, radon, and pesticides. Many of these contaminants originate indoors, and as they get trapped in your home, they make air damp, stuffy, stale, and unpleasant to breathe. Not only does it make the air unpleasant, what’s worse is it can make the air less safe to consume. The World Health Organization put out a report approximating that 4.3 million people die annually due to indoor air pollution. Considering that Americans spend the majority of our time indoors, this statistic is concerning. This article will provide ways to protect yourself against these harmful air contaminants.
Common Indoor Air Contaminants
- Dust: Dust is an accumulation of dead skin cells, carpet fiber, and dirt. If a homeowner neglects to change their HVAC filters, dust builds up which can lead to poor ventilation leaving those living in the home subject to dust mites and allergies.
- Moisture: As moisture accumulates in a home, it provides a nutritious growing environment for mold, mildew, and dust mites. All of these moisture-related health hazards can cause allergies and shortness of breath when breathed in.
- Combustion products: Combustion products are common gas-powered appliances like your dryer, water heater, furnace, and so on. If these devices are not properly ventilated, it can allow toxic combustion products like CO2 — which is fatal when inhaled — to enter into the home and get trapped in the air.
- Radon: Underneath your home, you could have radioactive radon gas percolating up through the soil and through the foundation slab, without you even being aware of it. Radon is one of the leading causes of lung cancer, and it could be affecting your family if you haven’t taken preventative measures.
- Pesticides, formaldehyde, and other evaporated substances are commonly emitted from commonplace materials. Exposure to these substances can cause headaches, nausea, and permanent damage to the kidneys, liver, and the central nervous system.
EFFECTS OF EXPOSURE TO INDOOR AIR POLLUTANTS
Even brief exposure to poor indoor air quality can lead to some uncomfortable health symptoms such as: coughing, sneezing, sore throat, dizziness, headaches, upper respiratory congestion, watery eyes, and fatigue. Some of these symptoms can be commonly misread as allergies or cold symptoms, and because of this, it’s important to pay close attention to when and where the following symptoms occur. These symptoms can be especially obvious in people with asthma, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory illnesses. The frequent presence of irritating air pollutants can exacerbate respiratory issues, causing immediate aggravation and discomfort.
Low-quality indoor air can lead to more than just allergic reactions and headaches over time. While indoor air quality might not seem like an immediate threat, long-term exposure to indoor pollutants can impair judgment and cognition and even have fatal consequences, including heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO PREVENT THESE PROBLEMS?
There are simple preventative measures you can take to protect your family. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends to:
- Focus on improving your home’s ventilation system
Keep your house on a routine HVAC maintenance schedule and be sure to replace your air filters regularly. Your HVAC specialist can install high-efficiency filters upon request, which will be the most effective for filtering out common indoor air contaminants. Your HVAC service professional can also inspect your system and make sure that it’s designed properly for your house and is working at peak performance and efficiency. In all areas that are prone to moisture or in ones that you use combustion products (such areas include the bathroom and kitchen,) make sure to have an exhaust fan in place.
- Use combustion products with caution
Make sure all furnaces, water heaters, and stoves are operating correctly and that they are properly ventilated. Inspect them regularly to ensure full functionality and strive to reduce how much you use combustion products such as tobacco inside the house. Never leave a vehicle idling in a closed space near the home, such as in the garage.
- Detect and prevent radon exposure
Radon detectors and prevention devices are easy to obtain and install. These detectors usually involve a fan and a PVC pipe that work together to improve the flow of radon and release it into the atmosphere at the roof level so that it isn’t pushed into your house through the foundation.
- Schedule Preventative Maintenance Services
If you are concerned about the quality of your indoor air, contact Arkansas Air Flow Inc.. Our skilled technicians are standing by to help you with your air testing and HVAC maintenance.