Poor air quality in a home poses a serious risk to the occupant’s health. Nowadays, people spend 90 percent of their lives indoors where the air is filled with potentially toxic, allergenic, irritating and infectious substances. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises that the levels of these harmful substances are 2 to 5 times, and occasionally up to 100 times, higher indoors than in the polluted outdoor air of a large, industrial city. You can protect the health of everyone in your household by learning more about the causes and negative effects of bad indoor air.
Negative Health Effects of Breathing Polluted Indoor Air
The chronic, serious and sometimes deadly health issues caused by indoor pollution can vary, depending on the degree of exposure and an individual’s susceptibility. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing illnesses are more vulnerable to the negative effects of poor indoor air quality, but everyone living in your home can experience health problems.
Complaints of sore throats, chest congestion and coughing, itchy/watering eyes and nasal congestion are common. Unexplained headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue and frequent upper respiratory infections can also be related to poor indoor air quality. Other serious and/or life-threatening illnesses can also develop or worsen, such as:
- Allergic reactions
- Lung disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Lung and other forms of cancer
What Can Cause Poor Indoor Air Quality?
The levels of allergens and pollutants are higher indoors largely because the focus on energy conservation in recent years has resulted in homes being more tightly constructed or sealed and weatherized. Since no home is completely airtight, though, outdoor pollutants seep in, such as radon, fossil fuel fumes, plant pollen and pesticides.
The other harmful particles and gases that can downgrade air quality come from sources inside a home, such as:
- Fuel-burning equipment and appliances that aren’t properly maintained. These can emit hazardous nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and deadly carbon monoxide (CO).
- Building materials, paint, carpet and furniture that off-gas harmful volatile organic compounds (VOC), such as formaldehyde.
- The array of household products commonly used for cleaning, maintenance, hobbies and personal care that emit numerous noxious chemicals.
- Mold and mildew spores that only need warmth and high humidity to flourish.
- Radon gas that infiltrates a home from the soil through cracks and crevices in the crawl space or foundation. This naturally-occurring gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the nation.
How to Solve the Problem of Poor IAQ
Now that you understand the potential negative effects of bad indoor air, you can begin taking positive steps to correct the problem:
- Keep fuel-burning appliances and equipment well-maintained. Annual inspections of HVAC equipment, gas-fired range, water heater, dryer and any other fuel-burning devices reduce the risk of exposure to hazardous combustion fumes. Regular maintenance also boosts energy efficiency and can extend the equipment’s lifespan.
- Enhance ventilation. A mechanical ventilation system can provide a steady, year-round supply of fresh outdoor air and help you breathe easier. A heat recovery ventilator is one type that can also control energy losses, whether you’re heating or cooling your home.
- Control humidity. Running the A/C in the warmer months can rid your home of the excess humidity that promotes mold and mildew growth. Operating kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans can help eliminate moisture from cooking, bathing and showering.
- Limit VOCs. Choose “green” or VOC-free products whenever possible. Avoid buying large quantities of products containing VOCs such as adhesives, polishes, oil-based paints, aerosol sprays and pesticides, and always store them in a well-ventilated area.
- Reduce allergens. Wet dust and vacuum regularly, use allergen-proof mattress pads and pillows and wash linens in hot water weekly to discourage dust mites. Bathe pets often and don’t allow them in the bedroom areas to help control dander and hair.
- Perform a radon test. You can purchase a do-it-yourself test kit, or arrange professional testing to determine if radon poses a threat to your families health. If this carcinogenic gas is detected, you can have the problem dealt with by a qualified radon specialist.
- Add HEPA filtration. You can eliminate up to 95 percent of particles larger than 0.10 microns in your indoor air by having a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtering unit added to your HVAC system by an experienced professional.
If you’re suffering from the negative effects of bad indoor air in your Amarillo area home, and you need expert advice on how to correct the problem, please contact us today at Grizzle Heating & Air.
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