Air Quality Problems in Your House and How to Fix them
What comes to mind when you think of pollution?
Perhaps instantly, heavily dense cities like Los Angeles or New York pop into your head. You can practically almost see the clustered factories in the distance churning out clouds of black smoke every second. Even the cars sitting nearby in traffic spew out thick fumes of exhaust from their pipes. As an instinct, you might pull out a mask or take a run down to the local park for some fresh air. Or, as most people do, you might make a beeline straight home. At least within your house, you can control your air quality, right? Well, not exactly. What you might not know is that your indoor pollution can actually be a lot worse than outdoor pollution. Since you’re living in an enclosed space, years of pollutant build-up can potentially cause serious health hazards that linger below your awareness. In fact, there might be several indoor pollution sources all contributing to one major problem.
We’ll take a look at the different types of indoor pollution and how you avoid the worst indoor pollution effects.
What contributes to poor indoor air quality?
Have you ever noticed any eye, nose, or throat irritation lately? What about some fatigue or headaches here and there? If you’ve ever experienced any of those health effects, then you might have just been exposed to indoor pollution. If not controlled over time, these effects can eventually become long-term and result in more serious problems. To better protect your own health and the safety of your family, taking the time to understand indoor pollution sources now is a great idea. Let’s take a deep dive into the types of indoor pollution.
There are plenty of chemicals in your home air quality that can cause irritation to your sensory areas. If you’ve ever sprayed a little too much disinfectant cleaner in the air or ever walked into the area of a nearby smoker, then you might know all too well how those chemicals can affect your body. The same goes if you constantly like to paint your house or use any materials that often have a lot of volatile organic compounds. Usually, these activities done on a one-time basis won’t cause too much harm. However, if there’s persistent use over a series of years, you should evaluate how your use of chemicals has potentially affected the amount of air pollution in your home.
Radon is a harmful but invisible and odorless gas that can have adverse health effects such as lung cancer. The presence of radon usually indicates that your home is built on some bedrock containing excess uranium. What then happens is that the radon gas diffuses through the soil and up into your home, where it’s mostly found in areas such as your basement. Breathing it in will usually also mean that you’re breathing in small amounts of radiation. You can never be too sure that radon is present in the home unless you test for it.
Ever found a closed up old lunch bag that you kind of forgot about and never opened? If you ever built up the courage to open it, the smell and mold probably would have made you hurl on sight. That’s one of the effects that bad ventilation can have, not only on your forgotten lunch boxes, but also within your home. Chances are that the habit of leaving all your windows closed can lead to indoor pollution sources like mold and condensation.
This is particularly common throughout the winter, where you definitely wouldn’t want all that cold snowy air to come in. However, doing this also contributes to a buildup of moisture that coats your walls, windows, and fills the air that you breathe. If you combine a lot of moisture and poor ventilation with high humidity, then now you’ve got the perfect recipe for mold growth. As long as you don’t pay enough attention, mold can start growing in the cracks of your floors, walls, ceiling, and even furniture. Give it enough time and it’ll become black and green. If you don’t see it first, then you might smell its less-than-pleasant fungal spores and even feel its allergic and cold-like effects later.
Over time, poor ventilation can also contribute to damaged walls. When all that moisture condenses, it can cause the paint of your walls to wrinkle and peel. Not only will you have to deal with a heftier bill thanks to maintenance costs, but you’ll also have to deal with the potential chemicals that could be reintroduced from wet paint.
Pets & pests
It’s always great to give your pet free reign to have fun in the sun and run around outdoors. However, they might inadvertently bring over some unwanted guests, along with a few streaks of mud and dirt. It’s never fun trying to get rid of pests such as ticks, insects, dust mites, or other foreign microbes. They can impact your airways with their allergic tendencies and potentially develop into more serious reactions.
Solutions to indoor air pollution
While complete indoor pollution control can’t get rid of all the sources, it pays off a lot in reducing the most adverse effects of lingering pollutants. Here are some ideas you can get started on:
- Have proper ventilation. One of the best ways in tackling indoor pollution is to increase the amount of airflow within your home. Go ahead and crack open those windows, open those doors, switch on those fans, and keep the air conditioning running for the best ventilation.
- Change the air filters. You definitely don’t want the collected particles on those air filters being circulated around throughout your home. Buy some new ones and toss out those old, caked on filters.
- Avoid painting or spraying combustible products. This is a great way to avoid all the potentially harmful chemicals that come along with those products.
- Evaluate your existing indoor pollution sources. Now that you’re more familiar with all the indoor pollution types, you’re now able to identify any problem areas in your home. Be sure to throw out problem-causing objects, do any necessary repairs, and change a part of your lifestyle if needed.
- Wash your pets. It’s a safe and healthy habit to give your pets a rinse and wash every time they go outside for a joyride.
Now that you know that your indoor pollution may actually be worse than what’s going on outside, you’re ready to safeguard your air quality from harmful pollutants. Whether it’s by acting on the steps above or hiring a professional to do a more in-depth analysis, keeping your home free of indoor pollution is always the best course of action to keep you and your family safe.