04 Aug Myth: My House Has No Air Pollutants
Itchy, irritated eyes, nose and throat.
These seem like symptoms of seasonal allergies...but did you ever consider that it may be due to your home's indoor air pollutants causing poor air quality?
Myth: My House Has No Air Pollutants
You may be thinking - "There's no way my home has pollutants in it. We don't smoke, and I don't even have gas appliances!"
But the truth is, we spend about 90% of our time indoors, and risks to our health are almost always greater to exposure of air INSIDE than the outdoors. All houses that have indoor air pollutants that should be exhausted or diluted on a regular basis. Just because you cannot see or smell anything in your home does not mean that it is free of pollutants.
Indoor air pollutant sources that release gas or particles are the primary cause of poor air quality. These can include not just smoke, but dust, pet dander, fumes, pollen, chemicals, carbon monoxide, mold and bacteria, pests, radon, and more.
If your home was built before 1978 it may contain lead paint either on the inside or outside. Flaking, deteriorating, or lead paint that is disturbed in any way can release dangerous dust into the air. Lead poisoning can cause serious health problems - especially in children and the elderly.
Serious precautions should always be taken when working with lead paint. As a homeowner, you can find out more information here: EPA's Lead Safety Page
Radon is a naturally occurring substance that breaks down in soil. It is colorless and odorless, and can sneak into your home through cracks in your walls and floors and through drains and sump pumps, primarily in your basement or crawlspace. As this air gets trapped in your home the concentrations build up.
The EPA estimates radon causes around 14,000 deaths per year! And exposure to elevated levels can lead to lung cancer.
CO can come from a number of sources including unvented kerosene or gas space heaters, leaky chimneys and furnaces, gas water heaters, woodstoves and fireplaces, car exhausts from attached garages, and tobacco smoke. Running generators in or near the house can also contribute to this deadly gas.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include fatigue, chest pain, impaired vision, dizziness and confusion, nausea, and even death at very high levels.
We've all heard of asbestos and you probably know that it's bad news. If you have an older home, there is a possibility that it's lurking in your attic or crawlspace, in your roofing or siding, or even covering your hot water and steam pipes.
Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing lung disease - so you never want this stuff airborne in your home.
What Can Be Done About Indoor Air Pollutants?
-Indoor Air Quality MonitorsTo start, you can always invest in an indoor air quality monitor. There are a ton to choose from - all packed with different features, from wifi connectivity and smartphone apps, to simple standalone devices.
For example, the Airthings 2930 Wave Plus is a smart indoor air quality monitor that detects
- Pollen levels
- Total VOC's (volatile organic compounds)
- and more
If you're looking for something a little less complicated, the Temtop M10 monitors particulate matter, VOC's and formaldehyde, as well as overall air quality index. It is designed so you can easily take measurements from room to room.
-Use an Air Purifier
Air cleaning devices can help to control the levels of airborne allergens and particles in a home. They can help reduce the levels of dust, pollen, dust mite and cockroach allergens, some molds, gases, odors and animal dander. Different types of filters work best on different airborne contaminants. Knowing which type of system is best for your home is difficult to determine. Consult a professional to understand which air purifier is the best solution for your home.
-Stop it at the Source
If your home has known asbestos, or perhaps you know you have a mold problem in the basement or attic, it would be wise to eliminate that source of poor indoor air quality. You can have an asbestos abatement company remove the source of asbestos, whether it be old insulation or other material.
Finding and stopping the source of mold is usually a result of a moisture issue and can have many causes. Read more about mold here: Reduce Mold in Your Home, and find a qualified contractor in your area who can determine the source of the mold and fix it for you.
-Ventilate your Home Properly
Your home probably has gaps, cracks, and holes left behind from construction. These holes allow air to enter and exit the home - which is not always a bad thing - but you should be aware of how MUCH air should be coming in and out, and have a method for controlling the amounts.
Getting a Home Energy Audit is a great place to start to really understand what's going on in your home and how to fix any potential issues. A qualified professional can determine the sources of indoor pollutants, measure your Air Quality Index, seal up unwanted outside air, and provide recommendations and solutions for fixing your indoor air quality concerns.
GreenHomes America contractors recognize what it takes to create and keep a healthy home. Breathe easy by contacting the experts at GreenHomes America! We've improved the health, efficiency and comfort levels in thousands of homes across the U.S!