Here are several reasons why you should be concerned about the air quality in your home and what you can do to make it better.
EPA Warns About Indoor Air Pollution
According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection, the air inside your home could be up to five times more polluted than the air outdoors. In extreme cases, the air could be up to 100 times more polluted?
You are probably wondering how this is even possible. First, you must consider that newer homes and those who have undergone energy-efficient upgrades are more airtight. Now when a pollutant gets inside a home, it is not diluted as much by outside air. It will also not seep out of your home and will linger longer in the air unless there is some means of cleaning it out of the air.
Health Concerns Related to Poor Indoor Air Quality
Pollutants that affect the indoor air quality in your home can cause immediate or long-term effects on your health. Depending on the pollutant, there may be sudden health effects soon after being exposed, especially if the individual has pre-existing health issues like respiratory problems. The level of reaction to being exposed can also vary from person to person.
Some symptoms of being exposed to a pollutant may mimic those that you might have with a cold or influenza, including:
- Eyes, nose, or throat irritation
Long-term effects on your health may not show up for years after repeated exposures or long-term exposure. These effects could be debilitating or even fatal, including heart disease, respiratory diseases, or cancer.
Pollutants Could Be Lurking in Your Home
When you think of pollutants that could be affecting the air quality in your home, your thoughts might immediately go to dust, pet dander, and pollen. Yes, these pollutants do have a negative effect, but there are so many others that you might not be aware of.
There are numerous pollutants that could be lurking in homes that affect indoor air quality. Some pollutants come from seemingly innocent sources, such as products we use everyday or items that we have in our home that give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including:
- Household cleaners
- Air fresheners
- Paints, varnishes, or glues used in hobbies
- Interior paints
- Personal care products, like hair sprays or nail polish
There are some pollutants are extremely dangerous to our health, such as:
- Lead dust from old paint
- Carbon monoxide from malfunctioning heaters gas stoves, or blocked chimney flues
- Asbestos from deteriorating shingles, insulation, or ceiling tiles
- Tobacco smoke from outdoors
Humidity Factors into Indoor Air Quality
It is no secret that Floridians deal with excessive humidity throughout the year from spring through the end of hurricane season in the fall. High humidity levels have a negative impact on your home’s indoor air quality. It makes everything in your home feel damp from your flooring to your bedding.
Humidity promotes the growth of mod and mildew in your home. These are living organisms that can both wreak havoc with your comfort and your health. An essential part of maintaining good indoor air quality is humidity control.
Ways that You Can Improve Indoor Air Quality
While you may not be able to control much of what goes on outside your home, like humidity and outside air pollution, you can take some control over your home’s indoor air quality by:
- Stick to “greener” cleaning products with little to no chemicals added
- Do not smoke in your home or near its doors or windows
- Only use no VOC glues, adhesives, and paints in your home
- Air your home out for several days after installing new flooring, carpeting, or upholstery
- Have your fuel-burning appliances, like gas stoves, ovens, and fireplaces serviced regularly
- Have your heating and cooling system professionally maintained to catch problems that could interfere with indoor air quality
- Inspect and replace HVAC air filters when dirty to ensure proper airflow and operation
- Add an air purifier to your home’s heating and cooling system to remove pollutants from the air
- Take control of humidity in your home with a dehumidifier