Indoor air quality is the term that talks about how good or bad the air is inside a home or building. The quality of air in your home can impact the health of you and your family members for several notable reasons. First, many Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. Second, indoor air pollution can be several factors worse than outdoor air pollution if only because there’s less ventilation. In fact, indoor air pollution has increased in the last few decades due to synthetic building materials. However, household cleaners, pesticides, personal care products, and even furniture can all contribute to indoor air pollution. To determine whether or not your home’s air is causing health issues, you need to know the warning signs and potential sources.
A Growing Problem
According to estimates from the World Health Organization, indoor air pollution results in over 3 million deaths around the world every single year. Approximately 1 million of them happen because of ischaemic heart disease. Over 700,000 people wind up having a stroke caused by indoor air pollution and pass away. Pneumonia and other lower respiratory infections kill hundreds of thousands. Others develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, because of the air they breathe inside their homes. Enough carcinogens in the air of a home can also lead to lung cancer.
Most cases of indoor air quality impacting your health are going to involve congestion and coughing. You’ll inhale airborne particles every day in your home. However, when the IAQ is bad, these particles come at you in overwhelming volumes. Coughing and congestion might indicate that your body is trying to get rid of these foreign bodies.
Frequent illness is another warning sign that your home’s air might be making you sick. Getting an occasional cold is likely to happen to anyone, but getting that or the flu frequently might indicate a problem in your home. Winter air holds less humidity than summer air, so airborne illnesses spread faster.
Watch out for fatigue and dizziness. Gaseous or chemical air contaminants include carbon monoxide and fumes. These impact cognitive functions. Dizziness, fatigue, and sleepiness are common symptoms. If these symptoms show up very suddenly and with high intensity, then you might have a gas leak that needs to be checked out.
Hyperactive allergies and mucus membrane irritations happen a lot with poor indoor air quality. Any allergies out of season or unusually high might indicate problems in your home. If more cleaning and medication don’t help, that can be a strong sign of bad IAQ in your home. Dry air and contaminants can irritate your eyes and nose more than other parts of your body given how much more vulnerable they are. Sinus headaches might happen more often. These can happen due to exposure to pesticides, standing garbage, and household cleaners among other strong odors.
If things get deep enough into your body, you might suffer from nausea or even respiratory issues. You can progress from coughing to actually vomiting in an attempt to clear your body out. Respiratory ailments are possibilities for the young and old, anyone who is immunocompromised, people with asthma, and even your pets.
Physical Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
There can be multiple sources of air pollution inside your home, and many of them are gases that you might inhale. They include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and secondhand smoke. Sulfur dioxide can happen if you burn kerosene in any space heaters you have. That can make it irritate your upper respiratory tract and your eyes.
Carbon monoxide is both colorless and odorless, so it’s impossible for you to detect using your own senses. Install detectors specific to this threat if you don’t have them already. CO can result from fuel-burning heaters and stoves among other appliances. This gas blocks oxygen from moving inside your body, and it can impact physical coordination. If you breathe too much in, you might get very tired and dizzy. You might also suffer from confusion, headache, and nausea. Heart conditions can worsen. High levels of CO can result in death. Particularly at-risk groups include pregnant women, babies, and older adults as well as anyone with preexisting heart and lung complications.
Nitrogen dioxide is also colorless and odorless. It’s a product of the combustion of kerosene and natural gas. High concentrations irritate the mucous membranes in human noses, throats, and eyes. Shortness of breath is a warning sign, and chronic exposure can hurt the lungs and possibly result in bronchitis. Even low levels can mean increased incidents of respiratory infections. Anyone with COPD or asthma is likely to experience worse symptoms.
Secondhand smoke comes from cigarettes, and it has trace amounts of thousands of chemicals. Over 40 of them are carcinogens, and more than 200 are known poisons. They include carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, which is a common adhesive and preservative. It’s used in everything from plywood paneling and particleboard to furniture, drapes, and carpets. Inhaling the fumes of formaldehyde can result in nasal irritation, eye discomfort, dizziness, headaches, rashes, and coughing.
Household products and pesticides can contribute a lot to indoor air pollution. However, some threats might be released during construction or remodeling, including asbestos and fumes from building materials that release them slowly over time. Radon is a known radioactive gas that might creep in through cracks and openings from the surrounding soil underneath your home. It’s the second-highest source of lung cancer in homes after smoking. Smokers and former smokers exposed to radon have much higher chances of developing this.
Live Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Your home might have live sources of indoor air pollution in addition to inanimate ones. Dust mites and cockroaches can be sources of indoor air problems, and so can mold and mildew. In fact, your pets might be sources, too. Pet allergens include dander, and these might linger in the air longer than other allergens. Their shape is jagged, and their size is often microscopic. That makes them easily airborne, where they can stick to fabrics, bedding, and furniture. It’s possible for them to move in and out of homes on personal items.
If anyone in your home has pet allergies, then their symptoms might be consistent with nasal passages that are swollen. Specific symptoms could include watery or itchy eyes, shortness of breath, sneezing, and a stuffy or runny nose. Physical contact with triggering pet dander might result in asthmatic episodes, hives, skin rash, or dermatitis. Your family doctor might be able to verify a specific allergy, but an HVAC technician might be who you need to get your system updated and cleaned out for better indoor air quality.
Treat This Problem With Professional Attention
Indoor air quality is always important, and it can impact the health of your whole family. You need to know about these risks and work to counteract them, so everyone breathes easily. A few simple changes can offer your whole family protection. If you live in Tampa, FL, or the surrounding areas, then we at Comfort All-Stars can help your home with our indoor air quality services. We also provide duct cleaning and sealing. Count on us at Comfort All-Stars for your home’s cooling, heating, and electrical needs.