Can The Air In Your Home or Business Make You Sick?
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One of the problems caused by mold is that it can impact the quality of the air you breath, which in turn, could impact your health.
Mold, however, is not the only source of indoor air pollution that can cause indoor air quality issues.
The purpose of this article is to explore the topic of indoor air quality further by:
- Explaining what causes poor indoor air quality;
- How you can determine if it is making you sick; and
- What you can do to fix the problem.
10 Indoor Air Quality Facts You Should Know!
Most people are unaware that their indoor air could be polluted. This is a topic of particular importance because we spend more time indoors during the winter months. In fact, we spend 90% of our time indoors, relying on our HVAC systems to create a constant stream of healthy air.
According to the EPA:
- Indoor air quality is one of the top environmental risks to public health.
- 60% of all homes and buildings have poor air quality.
- Pollution indoors is approximately 2 to 5 times worse than outdoors.
- 1 out of 10 Americans never change the filters on their heating and air conditioning units.
- Particulate matter in indoor pollution inflames the airways and lungs, causing allergic reactions and impairs breathing.
- Babies inhale the equivalent of four cigarettes a day crawling on the floor because they are inhaling chemicals from carpets, mildew, fungi, dust mites, and mold.
- 80% of Americans are exposed to indoor allergens, including dust mites and pet dander that causes allergic reactions.
- About 1 million people in the world die each year from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by poor indoor air quality.
- About 2 million people in the world die each year from illnesses attributable to indoor air quality.
- Nearly 3 billion people in the world are at risk because of indoor air pollution.
Your health is dependent on the the quality of the air you breathe.
Indoor air pollution is not visible to the naked eye, meaning the quality of your air could be making you sick without you even knowing it.
Despite your efforts to maintain a clean and healthy household, you still may be getting sick because of indoor pollutants.
Top 10 Causes Of Contaminated Indoor Air!
Contaminated air can seep in from the outside or could be caused by indoor sources like construction materials, consumer products, mold, insects, and pets. The effect of pollutants is compounded by poor ventilation which allows pollutants to accumulate to unhealthy levels.
Poor indoor air quality in your home or business could also be caused by factors such as the building design, heating/cooling design, and/or previous water damage.
Other potential causes of poor indoor air quality include the following:
- High humidity levels.
- Airborne dust problems from poorly maintained ducts or other sources in the building.
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) which are chemicals released by building materials and furniture.
- Inadequate ventilation caused by mechanical or building issues.
- Combustion problems leading to high levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO) or Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
- Sewer gas leakages, leading to odors.
- Recurring water damage, causing growth of mold and other bacteria.
- Radon, the second highest cause of lung cancer, most likely seeping through the foundation in your basement.
- Radioactive marble or granite in the home.
- Air borne asbestos, a cause of mesothelioma.
Health Issues Poor Indoor Air Quality Causes!
Our bodies are designed to rid ourselves of toxins and pollutants, this is one of the reasons that we get sick and experience colds and flus.
However, if you or other’s in your family always seem to be sick, the air you are breathing could be the cause.
Do you consistently have these health issues?
- Respiratory issues such as asthma, sinusitis, and other respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia;
- Excessive coughing and/or a breathless feeling;
- Dizziness, confusion, malaise, trouble concentrating, and other cognitive disorders;
- Skin irritation, itchiness, and rashes;
- Ear and/or eye infections
If you consistently experience these symptoms, the air you are breathing could be the cause.
A simple test is to record how you feel when you are away from your home or business. If you feel sick when you are in your home or business, but feel much better when you are away, then this could be a clue that the air is making you sick.
Actions To Improve Indoor Air Quality!
If you are concerned that your property is causing health concerns, then here are some actions that CEO of Wonder Makers, Michael Pinto, recommends you can take to improve the indoor air quality in your home or business:
- Do a thorough house cleaning. Properly identify and dispose of containers of old chemicals, pesticides, paints, fuels, deodorants, firewood, scrap lumber, and other materials that could harbor biological growth or become a source of chemical contaminants.
- Identify and correct all water intrusion problems. As we have written about before, the primary cause of mold issues is moisture and water. To prevent mold, you need to check the home for leaks in the roof, pipes, under appliances, etc. Exterior water intrusion can be caused by seepage, dirty eaves, downspouts directing water towards the home, etc. Goal is to prevent moisture from entering the home. If you live in an area prone to floods and sewer back ups, install a sump pump.
- Check appliances for proper functioning. Furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, water heaters, and other appliances, particularly gas or propane fired appliances, should be checked on a regular basis by a trained professional. These checks should include measurements for carbon monoxide and natural gas/propane to minimize the chance of explosion or asphyxiation. Install carbon monoxide detectors for extra peace of mind.
- Improve filtration on furnace and air conditioning systems. Use pleated paper filters, combination paper and charcoal filters, or install an electronic air filter to dramatically improve air quality. Improved filtration will not only stop particulate matters such as mold, dust, fibers, etc. but will also trap the bacteria and viruses that “hitch a ride” on such particles as they make their way through the air.
- Replace standard vacuums with high efficiency filtration models. Many vacuum manufacturers now have models that have HEPA filters. These high efficiency filters trap the finest dust particles that normally are propelled out of a bag or canister style vacuum after the heavy debris is deposited inside.
- Consider having your ductwork cleaned. The ductwork is the circulatory system for the home’s air. In new homes the ducts are often contaminated with debris from the construction process while older homes could suffer from buildup of contaminants over time.
- Utilize portable room air cleaners for individuals that have asthmatic symptoms or significant allergies. The use of room air cleaners, particularly in the bedroom, can create a zone of relief for individuals that are sensitive to indoor and outdoor pollutants. Eight to ten hours of exposure to clean air in the bedroom is often enough time for many people’s bodies to recover from the assaults that occur outside, in school, or in the workplace.
- Consider a professional inspection if symptoms persist and do-it-yourself measures are unsuccessful. The easiest way to determine if the air you are breathing is making you sick is to call an indoor air quality specialist to test the air. Indoor air quality professionals have specialized equipment that can test the air for radon, mold spores, and other pollutants. If the tests show mold or other contaminants are in the air, take steps to deal with the sources of contamination.
Got Indoor Air Quality Questions?
Advanced Mold Services is here to help! We are indoor air quality cleaning specialists. Call 586-468-6883 or send us an e-mail if you have concerns about your indoor air quality. Peace of mind is just a phone call away. We look forward to serving you! 🙂
Indoor Air Quality and Health! https://t.co/9kXIxYA4FU In #Michigan most people are unaware that their indoor air could be polluted. We spend 90% of our time indoors. This article explains what causes bad air & what actions you can take! Call 586-468-6883! PLEASE RETWEET #IAQ pic.twitter.com/xtDWJ4j2bQ
— Advanced Mold Services (@MoldAdvanced) October 17, 2019