Indoor Air Pollutants
One of the most important functions of a home is to control the temperature of the air inside of it, right? We want our homes warm when it's cold outside, yet cool and comfortable when it's too hot outside. All that climate control means insulating our homes as best we can to keep all the warm or cool air inside when we want it there, but what else are we keeping inside at the same time?
There are loads of indoor air pollutants that are commonly found in modern-day homes, and while some may go unnoticed, others can have direct physical effects on your daily health and well being. It's important to be aware of potential indoor air pollutants because you could be facing them on a daily basis, and prolonged exposure could result in long-term health issues.
What Are Indoor Air Pollutants?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of indoor air pollutant sources includes:
- Fuel-burning combustion appliances (like gas stoves)
- Building materials and furnishings like:
- Deteriorated asbestos-containing insulation
- Newly installed flooring, upholstery, or carpet
- Cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products
- Products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies
- Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
- Excess moisture
What Are Symptoms Caused by Indoor Air Pollutants?
Knowing whether or not you're experiencing health issues related to indoor air pollutants can be tricky since the symptoms often present themselves like the common cold. However, if you've noticed that you have recurring, continuous, or chronic symptoms, you may want to consider what pollutants are floating around your home since you’re more than likely encountering them on a daily basis. Common symptoms caused by indoor air pollutants can be:
- Eye Irritation
- Sinus Congestion
- Nose and Throat Irritation
- Problems Sleeping
How Can I Improve the Air Quality in My Home?
The first thing to consider when improving the air quality in your home is the type of climate that exists outside your home. For example, if you live in an area of the world where it rains a lot, excess moisture may be one of your greatest problems and perhaps the first one you'll want to tackle. However, there are other smaller, simpler steps anyone can take regardless of their location and climate. These factors are more related to the things we keep and use in our homes on a daily basis, which are more easily controlled and perhaps require less of a financial investment:
- Take a good look at your cleaning products. Household cleaning and body products can contain harsh chemicals that are tough on our respiratory systems. Choosing gentler, more natural home cleaning and body products is an easy and great first step to take when working on improving your indoor air quality.
- Let the outside air in. Most residential forced air heating and cooling systems do not bring outdoor air into the house mechanically at all. That means you are relying entirely on natural ventilation to rid your home of indoor air pollutants and bring in the fresh air. Any time the weather permits, open the windows and doors in your house to bring clean air in and send lingering unwanted air pollutants out.
- Consider natural furniture. From sofas to mattresses to throw pillows and cushions, furniture is often made with petroleum-based foam products that release gases into your home. Avoiding off-gassing furniture can help keep your indoor air cleaner and more pleasant.
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