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When you think of pollution, what do you think of? Often, people have the image of thick smog and dust. Many homeowners are surprised to learn their home contains indoor air pollutants. In fact, the EPA says some homes and buildings can be more polluted than outdoor environments.
While these pollutants are very small or even invisible, they can have a serious impact on your family’s health if not taken care of. Here are a few types of pollutants to be aware of and what you can do to create better air quality in your home.
You can get started on improving your home air quality by cleaning your ducts and vents. Contact a HVAC pro today and receive up to four quotes in your area for free.
Who Should Be Concerned About Air Quality?
The EPA estimates that 90% of a person’s time is spent indoors. This makes everyone vulnerable to indoor air pollution. If you live in a household with young children, elderly adults, or preexisting medical conditions like allergies, improving your indoor air quality should be a priority.
In homes with poor air quality, residents with short-term exposure may experience cold-like symptoms such as itchy eyes, nose irritation and headaches. If not properly taken care of, the long-term effects of indoor air pollution can have serious consequences on anyone’s health.
Older homes can be more susceptible to poor air quality in their home, as lead and asbestos were often used in building materials. Newer homes and remodels often incorporate materials that reduce risks of indoor air pollutions. However, those with newer homes and remodels should still make air quality a priority as certain materials can carry toxins or allergens into your home easily.
What Are Indoor Air Pollutants?
The first step to evaluating your home is to know what could be polluting your air. While every home is different, it’s important to test for each toxin to see what may be in the air you and your family are breathing. Here are a few to look for:
For those with allergies, mold can be a serious issue. This is created when mold spores begin growing in a wet or damp spot in the home. This can commonly be found in basements, attics and bathrooms if not properly ventilated. Inspectors can pinpoint the exact mold issue and create a plan for removal.
Another allergen that is common indoors is pollen. While traditionally found outdoors, this can be carried inside by an open window or door, on shoes or clothing worn inside. Pollen settles into areas of the home and will stay unless cleaned.
One of the more serious indoor air toxins is radon. It's the second leading cause of cancer in the U.S. according to the National Cancer Institute. This is an odorless and invisible gas that comes from the ground. Those who have basements are particularly susceptible.
Household Cleaning Products
The cleaning supplies you use may contribute to the quality of the air, if you’re not careful. Often, commercial products contain volatile organic compounds that when released into the air can cause asthma or respiratory problems.
Pet Hair & Dander
For those with allergies, pet hair and dander pose a significant risk. Regardless if your pet is long or short-haired, the dander they produce can linger on surfaces such as chairs, carpeting and even in the air.
While newer homes and remodels tend to be up-to-date, building materials can still impact overall air quality. Items with lead, asbestos and formaldehyde can be toxic to the overall health of your home. Those who suffer from asthma are even more susceptible to illness from high-emission building materials.
This may not be true for all homes, but secondhand smoke can seriously impact the quality of air in a home. Secondhand smoke in the air often carries the same chemicals found in other household toxins and can significantly increase the risk of many respiratory diseases and heart attacks.
Test Your Air
If you’re ready to take control of your home’s air quality and get back to a healthy level, the first step is to test your air quality and identify the problem. The average cost to test your indoor air quality is $400, with most homeowners spending between $328 and $437. These tests are typically done in one of two ways. The first is by obtaining a home testing kit from your local home improvement store. However, these tests will only identify specific pollutants, so it’s possible you could miss the cause. It’s best to contact a pro who can sample your air and identify the problem.
Ways To Prevent Home Air Pollution
Once you have determined what pollutants are impacting your homes health, you’ll want to remedy the situation. Here are a few options you have when it comes to home air pollution prevention:
Call A Pro
For some issues, like asbestos, radon and lead, it’s best to leave these harsh toxins to those who can safely handle it. Don’t attempt to get rid of these substances on your own. Contact a pro who can help you remove them from your home.
It sounds simple, but cleaning frequently can help reduce the amount of dust, pet dander, pollen and other toxins we had mentioned. However, ensure you’re using environmentally-safe cleaning products to ensure you’re not further polluting the air as you clean. Vacuuming high-traffic areas with a HEPA filter twice a week helps to eliminate microscopic pollutants.
Keeping plants inside can also help improve your air quality. Choose a few indoor plants to place around your home to not only benefit the décor but your health as well.
Stop Smoking Indoors
If you choose to smoke, a simple tip to improve indoor air quality is to keep it outdoors only. This helps eliminate the risks that secondhand smoke has on the household.
Ensure Proper Ventilation
Mold can be an issue to any area that is not properly ventilated. This is especially true in the bathroom where moisture is consistently present. To avoid the risks of mold, install a bathroom exhaust fan. The average costs to install a bathroom fan is between $15 and $550.
Control Your Home’s Humidity
Another culprit of mold growth is a high humidity. The EPA suggests keeping your indoor humidity at 30% to 60% at all times. If you need to decrease your current humidity levels, invest in a de-humidifier.
Clean Your Air Ducts & Vents
Many pollutants can travel throughout your home with the help of your HVAC system. Giving your air ducts and vents a good cleaning will not only rid your home of the toxic particles, but it can also increase the lifespan of your HVAC system. The average cost to clean ducts and vents is $321.
As you can see, a healthy home is cognizant of its air quality and eliminates the toxins that can harm it. Get your home air tested and see how you can improve it.