Learn How to Improve Your Indoor Air Quality
In simple terms, Indoor Air Quality is about how good or how bad the air is inside the places we live or work. However, diagnosing indoor air quality problems remains difficult. Why? Poor indoor air quality yields the same symptoms and effects as the common cold or other viral infections. As a result, it is difficult to determine if the symptoms are due to indoor air pollution exposure or a cold/virus. To help, here are some indoor air quality solutions.
Indoor Air Pollution Symptoms
First, pay attention to the time and place symptoms occur. For example, do the symptoms fade or go away when a person is away from the home? If so, attempt to identify indoor air sources that may be possible causes.
To further complicate things, a person’s reaction to a pollutant depends on their individual sensitivity. Obviously, this varies tremendously from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological or chemical pollutants immediately. Conversely, others become sensitized after repeated or high-level exposures.
Indoor Air Pollution Sources
Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems. The following is a list of some of indoor air pollutant sources and their possible health impacts on occupants:
Molds are part of the natural environment and can be found everywhere, indoors and outdoors. However, mold is not usually a problem unless it begins growing indoors. But, mold inside your home frequently triggers asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. Additionally, mold can cause respiratory infections such as Bronchitis and Fungal Infections and allergies.
Breathing air with a high concentration of CO reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood stream to critical organs like the heart and brain. At very high levels, which are possible indoors, CO can cause dizziness, confusion, unconsciousness and death.
If your home was built before 1978, there is a good chance it has lead-based paint. In fact, lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning. Lead affects almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger remain most susceptible to the effects of lead, which include behavior and learning problems, lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. You can’t see or smell radon. Testing is the only way to know your level of exposure.
Asbestos fibers may be released into the air by the disturbance of asbestos-containing materials during home demolition or remodeling work. Once in the air, exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease.
Vermiculite insulation is pebble-like in size and usually has a gray-brown or silver-gold color. All Vermiculite insulation that was sold between 1920 and 1990 should be assumed to be contaminated with asbestos and should not be disturbed by unqualified individuals.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s)
VOCs are chemicals that easily enter the air as gases from many sources including upholstered furniture, carpets, plywood and pressed wood products. Even many personal care products such as nail polish, nail polish remover, colognes, perfumes, rubbing alcohol and hair spray give off VOC’s into the air.
These indoor air pollutants and the many others not specifically listed here can negatively impact indoor air quality in homes. Learning about these contaminants and how to eliminate their harmful effects is the goal.