We often think that indoor air is safer than the outside air, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the air inside of our homes may be more unsafe that the outdoor air. Indoor air pollution can come from a multitude of things, such as air fresheners, nearby construction, tobacco smoke and wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. Older homes are more likely to let outdoor air (and pollution) seep into the home, compared to newer homes that are more energy efficient.
Sources of Pollution
There are many causes of pollution in your home, such as mold, mildew, dust mites, cockroaches, chemicals and secondhand smoke. These can cause a dangerous buildup of pollution in your home, so it is important to make sure your home has a good ventilation system.
Mold and mildew can both cause air pollution in your home and are commonly found in the bathroom and other rooms with excess moisture such as the kitchen. It can also be a sign that the vents are not removing enough air and letting enough moisture sit around for it to grow.
Dust mites and cockroaches can also cause indoor pollution, as their saliva, feces and skin shedding are left behind.
Chemicals such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, radon, formaldehyde, and those in cleaning products can also be found inside homes and they can be dangerous to those inside.
Cleaning products can contain harsh chemicals that can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reaction, eye, skin and lung irritation, and even cancer.
Indoor Air Concerns
Many indoor air issues are not visible and have no order, making them difficult to identify. For this reason, it is important to know when you should check air flow and air quality. Some symptoms to be on the look-out for are:
Stale and stuffy air is a symptom that there is a problem with your vents. You should not need to regularly open windows to refresh the air in your home. Lack of air movement is an indicator that the register is not producing enough air in the home to circulate properly.
As central heating and air conditioning units become dirty, the register filters become clogged and the unit produces less and less air.
Excess humidity in rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens may be caused by a vent system that is not removing enough air and becomes a haven for mold and mildew to grow.
What You Can Do
It is important to know if there could be a pollutant (or multiple) in your home, so getting carbon monoxide detectors (often built into smoke detectors), and even a radon detection system can help be proactive about possible pollutants.
One of the best things you can do for your family and your home is to regularly get your air and heating checked and clean to make sure it is working correctly. Air filters should be replaced every few months in order to maintain clean air in the home and not trigger any allergies or respiratory reactions.
With regular maintenance and awareness to changes in your home, you can create a safe and healthy environment for your entire family for years to come.