With air pollution in cities around the world making major headlines, people are quick to assume that poor air quality is an exclusively outdoors issue.
Many would be surprised to find that poor indoor air quality is a common but easily overlooked health risk. The pollutants found indoors are often different than those that are more common outside.
However, it’s nonetheless essential to be aware of them and takes steps to improve the air quality in your own home.
Here are the 6 most common offenders that make indoor air quality checks an essential precaution for every homeowner.
1. Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a notorious household pollutant, killing up to 500 people each year in the United States. Like many other indoor air hazards, it’s odorless and colorless.
Its symptoms include headaches, nausea and unconsciousness. Generally, it’s emitted from some kind of combustion, especially gas stoves and tobacco smoke.
To detect it, install CO detectors in your home, especially in the kitchen or in the bedroom. Additionally, make sure to have some airflow when using a gas stove.
Dust, pollen, pet hair and dandruff—you name it, allergens are the bane of many people’s existence. While a burst of pollen-laden spring air can make some people wish they’d never gone outside, household air can be filled with any number of allergens.
Considering how much time the average person spends inside (up to 90% for the average American), allergens in your home could be what’s keeping you sniffling. Especially if you’ve some furry friends or a severe dust allergy, buying an air filter can help keep down the level of particulates floating around.
Irregularly sized air vents can benefit from this 14 x 30 x 1 air filter – 1inch, which will filter out the most offending allergens before they reach your lungs. An air quality test can reveal the specific allergens present in your house.
Most people are familiar with the health consequences of asbestos, but fewer people expect to have it in their own homes.
Prior to the discovery of health risks of asbestos, it was used widely used as an insulator for homes and offices, and it’s still present in many buildings constructed before 1980. If left undisturbed, asbestos presents no real health risk, but once its particulates are dispersed through the air, it can cause lung scarring and even lung cancer.
All it takes is some remodeling or a rodent burying through your insulation to kick up lethal asbestos particles. So, a comprehensive air quality check can let you know if the dangerous material is lurking somewhere in your home.
Radon is another colorless, odorless gas that poses a serious health risk, as it is the 2nd leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
Radon is emitted naturally as uranium breaks down in the soil, and higher concentrations of the gas are found in certain areas. You can check if your area has a higher concentration of radon using the EPA’s radon zone map. some municipalities offer discounted or free radon tests.
If your tests show 4 pCi/L or higher of radon, you must take action immediately.
5. Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds are a class of harmful compounds that may occur in paints, sprays and plastic products.
The most infamous is formaldehyde, which is linked to cancer and can be found in various glues, wood products and textiles. Other VOCs may cause short-term health issues, such as headaches or nausea.
Hence, products containing VOCs should be used sparingly and with plenty of airflow. Because VOCs are such a broad category, testing these can be difficult, but most air tests will measure for more dangerous VOCs.
According to the EPA, up to 75% of American households utilize at least one form of pesticide. These inherently toxic substances can heavily impact your indoor air quality.
While it’s a better solution to avoid the use of pesticides altogether, air testing can reveal harmful levels of pesticides from recent pest treatments or improperly stored pesticide containers.
In a nutshell, there are several reasons to check the air quality of your home. If you’re moving into a new house, or if you or any of your family suffer from air-pollution related symptoms, you should have your indoor air quality tested as soon as possible.
Knowing the potential dangers lurking in the air you breathe can help you mitigate them. Maintaining your indoor air quality keep you and your loved ones breathing easy!