Pollution is defined as the presence or introduction of a harmful or poisonous substance into the planet’s environment. It is frequently most noticeable during the colder months when smog begins to form. However, air pollution can occur at any time of year. It can also manifest in the home. As shocking as it may sound, homes and offices can be more polluted than the outside air.
Types of Pollution Within the Home
It may be hard to imagine there being pollution within the home. After all, the house doesn’t smell or show signs of pollution, unlike the outdoor air. Much of the pollution in the home is caused by sources that emit gases or particles into the air. Indoor air pollution is also caused by building materials, air fresheners, tobacco smoke, and wood-burning stoves. Some air pollutants have been around for a long time but have been weakened by the infiltration of outdoor air into the home.
The most common types of indoor pollutants are listed below. Homeowners need to recognize the dangers of these pollutants and take the necessary precautions to avoid having them in their homes.
Live Sources of Pollutants
Mold spores, mildew, dust mites, and pet dander are all examples of living indoor pollutants. When exposed for extended periods of time, they can cause health problems. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Many people experience symptoms similar to a cold or flu that are exacerbated if they have pre-existing conditions.
Fuel-burning stoves, heaters, and other appliances emit carbon monoxide and other pollutants into the home. Because it is odorless and colorless, it is hazardous to humans and pets. Carbon monoxide inhibits the movement of oxygen within the body, and depending on how much is inhaled, it can have a variety of adverse effects. Carbon monoxide poisoning can impair coordination, and cause extreme fatigue, headaches, and nausea, to name a few of the many side effects.
Nitrogen dioxide is emitted when fuel is burned, which is common in vehicles and power plants. Many homeowners can bring these pollutants into their homes from exposure to being outside. Gas stoves also produce them. Long-term exposure can have lasting consequences for the respiratory tract. Those who have difficulty breathing are the most vulnerable.
Sulfur Dioxide is a gas that is produced when kerosene is burned in a space heater. It has the potential to irritate the upper respiratory tract and cause eye irritation.
Cleaners, solvents, and chemicals used for various hobbies are examples of pollutants found in household products. Exposure to these products can cause dizziness, nausea, and irritated eyes, skin, and lungs.
Pesticides are used to keep insects, pests, and rodents at bay. As a result, pesticides are highly hazardous to both the environment and human health. Short-term and long-term effects of exposure include irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, and throat and an increased risk of central nervous system damage.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that naturally occurs in rock and soil. It’s been used in various building materials, including insulation, roofing shingles, and fire retardants. Exposure to asbestos can increase the risk of developing lung disease and other complications such as mesothelioma and asbestosis if it is not removed from the home. As a result of these dangers, bans on the import, manufacture, and distribution of asbestos have been imposed. However, it may still be present in some older homes. It must be removed as soon as possible.
Fumes from new carpeting and paint or other sources such as sawdust from remodeling the home can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat.
Radon is a radioactive gas that seeps from the soil and rocks beneath the foundation of a house. It can enter the home through foundation cracks, walls, drains, and other openings. Radon exposure can lead to critical health conditions, such as lung cancer.
Secondhand smoke is a combination of smoke produced by the combustion of tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies it as a Group A carcinogen, and it contains over 7,000 substances. Heart disease, asthma attacks, and other lung conditions are among the health consequences of exposure.
The Harmful Effects of In-Home Pollution
As previously stated, indoor air pollution has been linked to several health issues. Many people who live in polluted areas experience frequent headaches, respiratory problems, colds, sore throats, chronic cough, skin irritation, eye irritation, tiredness, and memory lapses. Children, the elderly, and those suffering from chronic illnesses such as asthma and heart and lung disease are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of indoor pollution.
Pollution levels are highest in homes that are tightly sealed to keep cold winter air out. A well-insulated and sealed home allows a large amount of potentially harmful substances to accumulate.
4 Steps to Reducing Pollution Within the Home
Improving indoor air quality can assist those suffering from ailments such as asthma in avoiding flare-ups and allergy symptoms, especially during the colder months. So, how does one improve the quality of air in their home? Continue reading for a list of helpful tips.
There are four basic strategies for improving the air quality in the home: source control, improved ventilation, air cleaners, and keeping the floors clean.
Typically, the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is through source control. It entails removing individual sources of pollution or reducing emissions. Some of these sources, such as asbestos-containing ones, can be sealed or enclosed. Others, such as gas stoves and kerosene heaters, can be adjusted to produce fewer emissions. Source control is also a more cost-effective method of protecting air quality.
Improve Ventilation Throughout the Home
The majority of today’s homes include an HVAC system that does not mechanically bring in fresh air. Opening windows and doors, running window or attic fans, or using a window air conditioner with the vent control open all increase the rate of outdoor ventilation.
Another effective way to improve ventilation in the home is by utilizing air duct cleaning services. For homeowners, air duct cleaning is a necessary cleaning service. Cleaning the ducting systems, including the supply, intake, and return vents, and the registers, grilles, fans, HVAC system, and the furnace, is included.
The Process of Professional Air Duct Cleaning
A pre-inspection is the first step in cleaning the air ducts. This procedure entails having a professional duct technician inspect the air duct system in the home. The technician will then set up the vacuum collection unit. It is critical to create negative air pressure within the air ducts to prevent dust and other debris from spreading throughout the home.
Once the vacuum is set up, the technician will agitate the ductwork walls, removing pollutants that have become stuck to the walls. After the cleaning is completed, the air ducts will be inspected to ensure that nothing has been overlooked.
Indoor Air Cleaner Units
Today’s market offers a wide range of air cleaner types and sizes. Air cleaners range in price from low-cost, table-top models to high-priced, whole-house systems. While air cleaners effectively remove dust and other particles, it is essential to note that they are not typically designed to remove gaseous pollutants.
Keep the Floors Clean
Chemicals and allergens can build up in the home over time. The use of a HEPA-filtered vacuum reduces the concentration of lead and other chemicals, toxins, and pollen. Vacuuming the house regularly is essential, including the walls, carpet edges, and furniture where dust accumulates. Make sure to clean the filter regularly as well.
Mopping is another effective way to improve the air quality in the home. The dust that the vacuum leaves behind will be removed by mopping. Using floor mats at each entrance to the house also aids in the removal of dust and particles.
Other Ways to Reduce Air Pollution Within the Home
A few simple ways a homeowner can remove pollutants from their home include the following methods:
Maintain a Healthy Level of Humidity in the Home
Mold and dust mites thrive in moist environments. A home with a humidity level of 30-50 percent aids in controlling mold and other allergens. During the summer, dehumidifiers and air conditioners can also help reduce moisture levels inside, especially for those who live in humid climates.
Change Air Filters in Appliances
The air conditioning filter is not the only thing that works to keep the air in the home clean. All filters in household appliances, including the vacuum, dryer, kitchen, and return air vents, should be cleaned regularly.
Purchase Indoor Plants
Plants act as natural air filters. Having plants in the home can improve the air quality while also enhancing the décor. Ferns, lilies, and palm trees are the best plants for removing pollutants from the air. It is important to remember that some plants can collect and promote mold growth, so if you have indoor allergens, avoid those indoor plants.
Test for Radon Levels
Whether the house is new or old, it is critical to ensure that it does not have a radon problem. An excellent way to find out if the home has any dangerous radon levels is through air quality testing. Radon is produced by the natural decay of uranium, which is found in almost all soils. Granite countertops have also been linked to radon. Testing is a low-cost and straightforward method of determining whether a home has a radon problem.
Reduce Synthetic Fragrances
While fragrance in cleaners, laundry detergents, and air fresheners makes the smell in the air more pleasant, these fragrances emit various chemicals into the air. The majority of these fragrances are derived from petroleum products that have not been tested to see any significant health effects. Phthalates, for example, are a class of chemicals used in fragrances that are also used to soften plastics. Do we truly want these chemicals in our homes?
There are several methods for reducing the amount of fragrance in the home, including the following ways:
- Buying fragrance-free or naturally scented laundry detergent
- Using gentle cleaners with no artificial fragrances
- Aerosol sprays, such as deodorants, hair sprays, carpet cleaners, air fresheners, and furniture polishes, should be avoided
- Opening the windows to allow fresh air into the house
- Natural ingredients such as lemons and baking soda are used
Utilize Cooking Vents When Cooking in the Kitchen
The kitchen is a significant source of indoor pollutants. Gas stoves are notorious for emitting harmful contaminants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Electric burners emit the same pollutants, albeit at a lower level. It is critical to use the kitchen vents or open a window when cooking to help filter out the air.
The Importance of Taking the Required Measures to Ensure Good Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality has emerged as a significant health concern for homeowners and professionals alike. This is especially true for the most vulnerable, such as the elderly, infants, and those with compromised immune systems. While most homes contain a variety of indoor pollutants, this does not imply that they must.
Keeping the air in the home clean and healthy necessitates diligence and preventative maintenance. By maintaining healthy indoor air quality levels, homeowners can reduce the number of times illnesses occur and the risks of developing long-term health problems associated with inadequate air quality exposure. Identifying the source of the air pollution, hiring professionals to identify and remediate mold and other pollutants properly, and consulting a medical professional to help with any side effects will all help ensure that the home’s occupants do not continue to suffer from indoor pollutants.
Contact AirNow Today
AirNow Cooling & Heating, founded in 1991, is a full-service air conditioning and heating contractor. Our company is based in the Millbrook, Alabama, area. We use cutting-edge technology to diagnose and repair existing systems, ensuring that your home has the best possible air quality levels. Our certified technicians understand the dynamics of HVAC systems and strive to provide the best services for our customers possible. For a free quote, please contact us today.