Thursday, October 20th, 2016 by Kelsey Harrison
During our nation’s spookiest month, it might scare you to know what you breathe in each and every day. October is National Indoor Air Quality Month – which means you should take a moment to consider some very important questions: how is the air quality in your home? Does it pose a threat to your comfort or, more importantly, your health? Could it be improved?
Let’s focus on the two places where we do the majority of our breathing – the office and the home. What are the most common indoor air pollutants that are posing a threat your air quality?
Combustion. This means heating stoves, fireplaces, furnaces, space heaters and even tobacco smoke. Combustion is dangerous because it releases carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide into your breathing air. Carbon monoxide is especially harmful as it kills about 430 people per year. Symptoms to look out for would include nausea, confusion, and shortness of breath. Installing CO alarms is a proactive way to detect the “silent killer.” You can similarly install instruments to detect nitrogen dioxide, but it is easier to see and smell the chemical, which has a reddish-brown color and an acrid odor.
Radon. This colorless and odorless gas usually comes from low levels of decaying uranium, which can be found in most soil. It makes its way into your house is by creeping through the gaps in the foundation. Radon is extremely dangerous to your health as it is the second leading cause of lung cancer and kills about 21,000 every year. The best recommended way to test for radon is to get an air-quality test, performed by a qualified radon inspector.
Asbestos. Asbestos, like radon, comes from our soil. However, it is not until it seeps into the home that it becomes a problem. Older buildings are especially likely to be plagued by asbestos since they long used it as a building material and insulator. Also like radon, the best way to take care of this problem is to get a professional to come to your home and make personalized recommendations.
Mold and Mildew. Fungi tend to like warm, humid conditions, often drawing them to our bathrooms and basements. Common symptoms would include nasal stuffiness, wheezing and skin irritation. The best way to get rid of is to try and keep moisture out. To do this you can use a dehumidifier, a fan, or enlist the services of a professional. (You can also get rid of small cases of mold by scrubbing with soap, water, and bleach).
Dust, Dander and Droppings. These can originate from dust mites, cockroaches, rodents, pets, pollen, and bacteria. At first, these contaminants may cause symptoms similar to those of an allergic reaction, but constant exposure can cause more serious issues (such as asthma). Good housekeeping, ventilation, and possibly a pest extinguisher are the best ways to treat this situation.
Pesticides. Ironically, the poison that is used to eradicate pests can also cause problems. About three-quarters of U.S. households have used a pesticide in the past year alone. Symptoms of these chemicals taking a negative effect would include headaches, nausea and a sense of confusion. The best way to prevent issues from arising is to properly ventilate your home and have an indoor air quality test conducted.
Have we scared you yet? Well, don’t worry too much. You can call us today at 1-410-867-1202 or visit us online for help!
*Facts and statistics pulled from EPA and CDC websites