Checking on the Air Inside
Everyone wants to breathe easily, especially at home. There are a variety of contaminants that can decrease air quality, many of which can be reduced by eliminating the source. From smoking to buying new furniture, contaminants find their way into your airspace.
The following common types of indoor air pollution can be found in most homes:
Asbestos is made up of small carcinogenic particles that can lodge in the lungs. The particles enter the air through deteriorating ceiling and floor tiles, or acoustic materials and fire proofing.
Biological pollutants include mold, mildew, and pet dander. They can cause allergic reactions and asthma.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that is produced during incomplete combustion of carbon and can be lethal. Sources include car emissions, fireplaces, and gas stoves.
Pressed-wood products can emit formaldehyde that can cause headaches and even asthma.
Cleaning, maintenance, and hobby products can contain volatile organic compounds that can cause headaches and also pose a long-term cancer risk.
Lead exposure is generally caused by lead-based paint or contaminated soil. If you are involved in an activity that produces lead dust, be sure to keep children out of the area.
Nitrogen dioxide is produced by unvented kerosene heaters and tobacco smoke.
Pesticides generally include semivolatile organic compounds. Being around pesticides for a long time can irritate the respiratory system and cause damage to the liver and central nervous system.
Radon comes from naturally decaying uranium in soil and water and is the second-leading cause of lung cancer. The U.S. surgeon general has encouraged everyone to have their homes tested for radon.
Fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can produce particles. When burning, try to ventilate the area to avoid irritation to eyes and respiratory systems.
If the sources of indoor air pollution can't be removed, ventilating the area may help decrease the concentrations. Bathroom and kitchen fans can be used to exhaust air directly to the outside and improve the ventilation rate. However, if left open, ventilation fans exchange a considerable amount of air, which requires extra heating or cooling.
If you're getting rid of household products that are labeled poison, danger, warning, or caution, don't throw them in the trash or pour them out. Find out about your local household hazardous waste collection center or pickup service.
A variety of cleaning systems are available to improve the quality of air in homes or workplaces. They vary in size from tabletop models that work in limited areas to models that treat the entire house. Make sure the air purifier you're considering treats the specific contaminant that needs to be eliminated.
Air purifiers cannot be used to remove radon from your house; homes have to be mitigated in this instance. Ozone generators are often recommended, but in actuality ozone is not healthy to breathe. Plants have also been found to clean indoor air, so keep your plants healthy and they'll do the same for you.