Get a Fresh Breath of Air Inside Your Home
What’s irritating your throat indoors could be indoor air pollutants. Indoor air pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, dust mites, tobacco smoke, asbestos, and other chemicals are harmful to your health. The danger of indoor air pollutants is particularly grave considering the time we spend indoors and the fact that the presence of these pollutants often goes undetected for years.
To learn more about how to handle indoor air pollutants, let’s look at:
- The causes of indoor air pollution
- How to get cleaner air
- Indoor air quality products
The Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
When people had drafty homes, indoor air pollution wasn’t much of a problem. While air seeping in and out of windows and through uninsulated walls causes uncomfortable breezes inside, the movement of air sweeps out indoor air pollutants. With today’s tighter, more energy-efficient homes, indoor air pollutants stay indoors during winter heating season, as well as in summer air conditioning, when windows stay shut.
Where do all these air pollutants come from? There are a number of sources.
If you or someone in your home smokes cigarettes, a pipe, or cigars, everyone else is enduring secondhand smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke contains at least 70 carcinogenic-causing chemicals, not to mention the 7,000 other chemicals contained in tobacco smoke that can contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other cardiovascular diseases. Considered one of the most severe and dangerous indoor air pollutants, the best way to eliminate tobacco smoke indoors is of course to not smoke inside the home.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in many paints, rugs and carpets, certain building insulation, wood furniture, common household cleansers, and even hairsprays and fragrances. VOCs released into the air can cause headaches and nausea. Long-term exposure can cause damage to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system. Wherever possible, look for products that contain reputable eco-labels, like Safer Choice, that do not contain VOCs.
Mold grows wherever it is dark and damp. Think unfinished basements, for example. If you should ever see green on walls or ceilings, you’ve got a mold problem. All too often, however, mold exists behind walls and in the insulation, so you don’t even know it is there. Mold is an indoor air pollutant that can cause or worsen a variety of health problems, including asthma, allergies, and other respiratory issues.
We love our pets and they love us. Unfortunately, all that mutual love doesn’t prevent the shedding of pet dander from animal fur, skin, and saliva. This indoor pollutant can cause or worsen asthma, hay fever, and other allergies.
You can’t get away from dust. Regular vacuuming helps–not just a quick once over, but a thorough cleaning of all rugs, draperies, and even pillows. Put out welcome mats in front of your entrances and get your family in the habit of scraping their shoes. Better yet, have them take their shoes off before walking through the house.
Gas Cooking and Heating
You may have heard about the California gas appliance ban to outlaw natural gas heaters by 2030, as well as the banning of gas stoves in some municipalities. Natural gas combustion creates nitrogen oxide (NO2) and methane, greenhouse gas pollutants that affect health and the environment. And gas stoves emit benzene, even when turned off.
According to the EPA, breathing radon over time increases the risk of lung cancer. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas from underground that can seep in from cracks and holes in your home’s foundation. If you have a sump pump with a drain, you absolutely need to check for radon. An indoor air quality monitor can tell you if you have potentially dangerous levels of radon. There are also companies that specialize in radon testing and mitigation.
How to Get Cleaner Air
The easiest way to get cleaner air is to open your windows. But this isn’t a desirable option during winter when it is too cold or summer when it is too hot.
One way to reduce indoor pollutants when you need to keep your windows closed is to get some indoor plants. They not only help absorb indoor air pollutants, they also improve overall indoor air quality by releasing oxygen and increasing humidity. Types of good indoor plants include English ivy, pothos, bamboo palm, and peace lily.
Whenever possible, look for low-emitting building materials and furnishings such as bamboo, wool carpets, and latex paint. Clean them using products made with natural ingredients such as white vinegar, baking soda, borax, citrus fruit, and essential oils.
While these actions can help, the best and most effective way to address indoor air pollutants is through proper ventilation and air filtration.
Indoor Air Quality Products
Your HVAC system has at least one air filter to trap and contain indoor air pollutants. This filter needs to be inspected and changed regularly as part of periodic maintenance to ensure proper ventilation and efficient heating and cooling. You might consider adding additional air filters and/or air purifiers, particularly if you or a member of your household has respiratory issues. You can also install an indoor air quality monitor to keep track of air pollutants and alert you to their presence.
Consult the Indoor Air Pollutant Experts—Ongaro & Sons
Ongaro & Sons offers a number of products and services designed to mitigate indoor air pollutants. Our certified technicians can help you assess your home’s IAQ (indoor air quality) and propose the most effective air filtration and ventilation solutions to protect your family’s health and well-being.
Installing and maintaining an air filtration system or air purifier, or any ventilation solution to address indoor air pollutants, requires professional skills and experience. Call the specialists at Ongaro & Sons. We are Trane Comfort Specialists certified in high-efficiency HVAC systems and indoor air quality.