Everyone talks about how important it is to eat clean food and drink clean water, but what about breathing clean air? Far more air circulates through your lungs each day than food and water passes through your digestive system. That’s why you should give indoor air quality the attention it deserves.
The first key to eliminating household pollutants is to identify the most common ones out there. Take a look at the top five contributors to indoor air pollution.
A cancer-causing, radioactive gas, radon is a serious problem in many homes. You can’t see, smell or taste it as it rises from the soil beneath your home. Radon is found all across the US, a result of uranium breaking down. It rises up through the ground and into the air you breathe through gaps in building materials, cracks in the wall and your water supply. Prolonged exposure to radon can damage your lungs and lead to lung cancer later in life.
Your best bet to reduce radon exposure is to have your home tested and modifications installed if necessary to redirect rising radon to the exterior of your home.
This category includes pollen, pet dander, mold spores, bacteria, viruses and dust mites – living or formerly living household pollutants that irritate your skin or respiratory system. Everyone is exposed to some level of these contaminants on a daily basis, but high levels of exposure or acute sensitivity cause some people to suffer negative health effects from biological contaminants. The most common reactions are allergic responses including flu-like symptoms and asthma attacks. These pollutants can also cause diseases or result in toxic reactions that damage bodily organs and tissues.
To reduce the concentration of biological household pollutants, take steps that include controlling moisture, maintaining appliances that generate or come in contact with water, dusting and vacuuming often, and dealing with water damage swiftly and properly.
Another dangerous gas commonly found inside is carbon monoxide. It’s produced as a result of incomplete combustion, meaning you’re at risk of exposure if you have gas- or oil-fired appliances, a wood-burning stove, or other combustion appliances in your home. At low exposure, carbon monoxide causes fatigue and flu-like symptoms in healthy people plus chest pain in those with heart conditions. At moderate-to-high concentrations, carbon monoxide becomes very dangerous, causing vision impairment, reduced brain function, angina and even death.
To reduce indoor levels of carbon monoxide, have combustion appliances serviced often to ensure correct venting and safe operation. Never use unvented appliance or charcoal grills indoors, and don’t let your car idle in the garage.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Also called VOCs, these chemicals are off-gassed from a variety of common household products such as paints, household cleaners, cosmetics, aerosols, air fresheners, furniture, pressed wood, carpet, automotive products, hobby supplies and much more. The most common health effects caused by VOCs include headaches, nausea, throat irritation, and damage to the liver, kidney or central nervous system. Some VOCs even cause cancer.
Reduce the presence of these household pollutants by ventilating your home when applying paint, avoiding the use of harsh chemicals indoors, disposing of unneeded chemicals safely instead of continuing to store them, and purchasing eco-friendly building materials and furnishings not made with VOC-emitting ingredients.
Take indoor air quality seriously to protect your health and that of your family members. For more information about abating household pollutants, please contact Rainbow International®. We offer remediation services following flood, fire, mold contamination and more to help restore indoor air quality to a healthy level.