All of us do what we can to be safe and stay well. We look before crossing the street, wash our hands, and cough into our elbows all in effort to minimize illness and bodily harm, but even that may not be enough. Our homes could actually be making us sick! Can you imagine? The place you have put the most effort into making a safe and cozy sanctuary may actually be harming you.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor air quality is caused by indoor pollutants releasing gasses or particles into the air. Inadequate ventilation in your home, along with high temperatures and humidity, can worsen the problem.
There are many sources of indoor pollutants, but some of the most common are:
- Oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products
- Building materials and home furnishings
- Household cleaning products
- Central-heating and cooling systems
- Humidification devices (if not properly maintained)
Fortunately, for us, there are 3 basic ways to improve your Indoor Air Quality:
- Source Control – eliminate (or reduce) the source of the pollution (i.e. seal off areas containing asbestos or adjust the gas levels on a gas stove to decrease emissions). Source Control is by far the most effective way to improve your indoor air quality.
- Ventilation Improvement – increase the amount of outdoor air coming in by opening doors and windows and using attic fans when possible.
- Air Cleaners – an air cleaner’s success is measured in how many pollutants it collects and how much air is pulled through the cleaning element. Depending on what your particular type of pollutant is, this may be very helpful.
Side effects from indoor air pollutants can be felt immediately, such as asthma, headaches, and allergy-like symptoms, or may show up years later in the form of respiratory diseases, heart disease and cancer. It is important to improve the air quality in your home even if you are not currently feeling any symptoms.
If you have questions on this subject or would like more information about testing for and improving your indoor air quality, the EPA’s website has a wealth of information on this subject.