What Is Indoor Air Pollution?
When you hear the term “air pollution,” what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, you immediately think of the smog you see hanging in the air around large metropolitan areas. While that’s the kind of air pollution you hear about most often, indoor air pollution can present a much greater hazard to your health.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can contain two to five times — and in some cases over 100 times — more pollutants than the air you breathe outside. But since you don’t often hear about how polluted your indoor air might be, the health implications of breathing dirty indoor air may never cross your mind.
If you’re not taking measures to improve your indoor air quality, there’s a good chance the air inside your home is seriously polluted. But here’s the good news: it’s never too late to start!
Below are details on indoor air pollution, common items that can seriously contaminate the air in your house, and the measures you can take to improve your indoor air quality.
What Exactly Is Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air pollution is exactly what it sounds like: pollutants floating around in the air inside your home. You may not be able to see them or even smell them in some cases, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
So what’s polluting your indoor air? Pollutants vary from home to home, but if you’re like most people, the household products you use every day are contributing to your indoor air pollution. But it’s not just household products. Dust, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, and a number of other substances that hang around the average home can also contribute to dirty indoor air.
Indoor Air Pollution and Your Health
Just as breathing in outdoor pollution can negatively affect your health, inhaling indoor pollution can have the same effect. And since you likely spend about 80% to 90% of your day inside a building, indoor air pollutants can present a much greater threat to your well-being.
If you suffer from allergies, indoor pollutants can make your symptoms worse. Even if you don’t have allergies, when you spend considerable time inhaling polluted indoor air, you may experience any number of the following health issues:
- Dry eyes, nose, and throat
- Itchy, dry skin
- Contact dermatitis or rashes
- Frequent headaches
- Persistent fatigue, despite getting enough sleep
- Sinus congestion
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, mucus accumulation
Common Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants
A wide variety of everyday household items can contribute to indoor air pollution in your home. Aside from household products, ventilation issues, pollen, dander, bacteria, and several other things can diminish your indoor air quality. Just a handful of the most common contributors to indoor air pollution include:
- Dust. Researchers have identified over 45 different toxic chemicals from five different chemical classes in dust samples from the average home. If your house is seriously dusty or the inside of your ductwork is caked in dust, that’s contributing to indoor air pollution.
- Organic growths. Mold, mildew, and other organic growths can seriously contaminate your indoor air. Not all species of mold are harmful to your health, but breathing in spores isn’t good for you, regardless of whether those spores trigger health issues.
- Household cleaning products. Most commercially available household cleaning products contain plenty of chemicals that contribute to indoor air pollution. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released into your indoor air each time you use these products and they can linger indoors indefinitely.
- Candles. Petroleum-based candles (the kind made from paraffin wax) release harmful chemicals into the air when they burn. These chemicals contribute to indoor air pollution.
- Aerosols. Aerosol sprays contain harmful VOCs and they also emit billions of tiny solid and liquid particles into your indoor air. Just because you can’t see those microscopic particles doesn’t mean they aren’t polluting the air in your home and threatening your health.
- Air fresheners and perfumes. Artificial fragrances of any type contain harmful VOCs, and like aerosols, they also release particulate matter into your indoor air.
- Inadequate ventilation. When your house doesn’t get enough ventilation, indoor air pollutants can build to harmful levels. If you never open your windows, you may be breathing in seriously polluted air.
- Damaged ductwork. If your ductwork contains leaks, outside substances can find their way inside your ducts. When your air conditioning or heating turns on, the forced air can push those substances into the air in your living spaces.
- Tobacco products. Obviously, smoking indoors releases hundreds of hazardous chemicals into the air you breathe.
- Building materials. Many building materials are treated with products that contain harmful chemicals and VOCs. If your house contains any of these materials, they’re contributing to indoor air pollution.
- Radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can enter your house through the ground. It is harmful to human health and is a common contributor to indoor air pollution.
- Pesticides. Pesticides are inherently toxic, and they can travel indoors when dust, dirt, and outside air enter your home.
Controlling Indoor Air Pollution
If you’re worried that the air inside your home is seriously contaminated, you can take measures to improve your indoor air quality. If you haven’t had your ductwork cleaned in years (or ever), that’s a good first step. It’s a good idea to schedule professional duct cleaning every two years or so to maintain good indoor air quality.
In addition to having your ductwork professionally cleaned, you may also want to consider implementing an air purification system in your home. You can opt for portable units or a whole-house filtration system, just make sure whatever system you choose has HEPA filtration.
If you’re looking to improve the indoor air quality in your Dallas area home, get in touch with our team at Metro Express Service in Carrollton! We specialize in duct cleaning, duct repair, and several other HVAC services and help you determine the best course of action to reduce indoor air pollution in your home. To get started, give us a call today at 972-263-2500 or contact us online and we’ll be in touch.