How to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Your Home
The Health Risks of Poor Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality affects your health and comfort. But you may not realize just how dangerous poor indoor air can be. Here are some sobering statistics and health risk details:
- Indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air.
- Poor indoor air quality causes 6.5 million deaths annually worldwide.
- Mold can cause asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and allergic reactions.
- Secondhand smoke increases risks of lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis, and asthma attacks.
- VOCs can cause nausea, dizziness, and long-term liver damage.
- Dust mites and pet dander can trigger allergic reactions and asthma flare ups.
- Radon exposes residents to lung cancer risks and is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
- Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen delivery leading to nausea, dizziness, and death at high levels.
Poor air quality causes irritation to eyes, nose and throat, headaches, fatigue, and breathing issues in both the short and long-term. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.
6 Common Indoor Air Pollutants and Their Effects
To improve your indoor air, you first need to understand what’s polluting it. Here are 6 of the most common indoor air contaminants and details on how they impact health:
Mold grows rapidly in damp areas of your home. Inhaling mold spores can cause allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and respiratory infections.
Secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which can cause cancer. It increases risks of lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis, and asthma attacks.
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
VOCs are emitted as gases from paints, varnishes, cleaning supplies, air fresheners and more. Exposure can cause nausea, dizziness, and long-term liver damage.
Dust Mites/Pet Dander
Microscopic dust mites and pet dander can become airborne and trigger allergic reactions and asthma flare ups when inhaled.
This radioactive gas seeps into homes through cracks and exposes residents to lung cancer risks. Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.
This odorless, colorless gas is emitted by gas stoves, furnaces, fireplaces, and heating systems. It binds to blood cells reducing oxygen delivery leading to nausea, dizziness, and death at high levels.
Tips to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Here are steps you can take to reduce or eliminate these common indoor air pollutants:
Use Air Purifiers with HEPA Filters
HEPA air purifiers are highly effective at removing mold, smoke, pet dander, and over 99% of allergens. Follow manufacturer guidelines on filter replacements.
Seal Cracks and Crevices
Caulk and weatherstrip windows, doors, pipes and any openings that can allow radon gas entry. Look for cracks along baseboards, around pipes, and foundations.
Monitor Air Quality
Place carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms and radon detectors in basements for best coverage. Follow manufacturer guidelines on replacing detectors.
Control Moisture and Humidity
Fix leaks, ventilate bathrooms, and use dehumidifiers to keep humidity below 50%. This inhibits mold growth.
Vacuum carpet and upholstery regularly using a HEPA filter. Wash bedding weekly in hot water to remove dust mites.
When to Call in Professionals for Help
Some indoor air quality issues require professional mitigation. Contact qualified specialists immediately if:
- You find asbestos, often in insulation, flooring or ceiling textures, in an older home built before 1980.
- Radon levels tested above 4 pCi/L. A radon mitigation system can vent gas before it enters your home.
- Excessive black mold returns even after fixing leaks and cleaning with a 10% bleach solution.
- Your HVAC system needs duct cleaning or has issues distributing air properly throughout the home.
Don’t wait to address indoor air quality issues. Poor air quality could be seriously affecting your family’s health without you even realizing it. Follow these tips to breathe easier in a healthier home environment.