Few people are aware of the hazards of indoor air pollution. However, indoor air pollution is very prevalent and can cause myriad health problems, including asthma, headaches, cancer, and poisoning, if toxins are at high enough levels. Learn the common sources of indoor air pollution and how to control them.
The following airborne toxins are commonly found inside of homes.
Radon – a colorless, odorless radioactive gas linked to lung cancer
Carbon monoxide – also colorless and odorless; can cause poisoning and death
Chemicals in cigarette smoke – a range of carcinogenic chemicals that can cause respiratory problems, cancer, and other health problems
Mold and mildew particles –organic toxins that can cause and worsen breathing problems, including asthma, and even cause death in small children, if severe
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) – includes various toxic gases causing a range of health effects, from nausea and headaches to nervous system damage and liver toxicity
Respirable particles – small bits of matter that can be inhaled, causing breathing problems and cancer
So where are all those nasty airborne toxins coming from? The following products and activities are common sources of the airborne toxins that cause indoor air pollution.
Cigarette smoke – the source of cancer-causing cigarette smoke chemicals (obviously); also a source of respirable particles and carbon monoxide; can compound the effects of radon pollution
Moisture – when excessive, can lead to the overgrowth of mold and mildew particles
Building products – i.e., carpet, paint, pressed wood products; a major source of VOCs
Heating equipment – i.e., stoves, chimneys, furnaces, fireplaces; a source of respirable particulates and carbon monoxide
Other sources – cleaning supplies, pesticides, new electronics, upholstered furniture, glue, radon-contaminated soil or water supply
In many cases, you can reduce indoor air pollution by removing the source. Not smoking cigarettes in the house is an obvious solution. It is also possible to test your home’s radon and carbon monoxide levels to determine if there is a problem and eliminate it. Excess moisture can be removed with a dehumidifier. Store toxic materials, such as paint and pesticides, outdoors. Regular heating system maintenance is also important for reducing emissions.
Increasing ventilation is another essential component of controlling indoor air pollution. Toxic gases, such as radon, carbon monoxide, and VOCs, can be vented outdoors; make sure there is adequate ventilation when using heating equipment and painting, and store new building products outdoors for a few days before bringing them inside. Strategically placed fans and air conditioners, along with open windows and doors, can be used to increase ventilation. Increasing ventilation also helps decrease humidity.
While toxins like radon or carbon monoxide must be vented outdoors or eliminated at the source, air treatment services can remove many airborne contaminants that cause indoor air pollution, including respirable particles, tobacco smoke, and others. Call 333-HELP to learn more about air treatment services to control your indoor air pollution.