Indoor Air Pollutants You Should Be Aware Of

Indoor air pollutants

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is defined by the EPA as “the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants.” IAQ can be compromised by pollutants from some seemingly innocent sources that you can control.

Minor health effects can show up soon after exposure to a pollutant in the form of eye irritation, runny nose, headaches, etc. But it is important to understand that long-term negative effects of these pollutants can actually appear many years down the road in the form of respiratory disease, heart disease, and cancer.

The following is a list of common pollutants you should be aware of:

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

These are chemical compounds found in paints, furniture and dry cleaning. Effects include headaches, dizziness and cancer. To reduce your risk, remember to buy low- or no-VOC products and seek out an environmental dry cleaner.

Ozone

The effects of climate change can activate the formation of ground-level ozone, which is an odorless gas that causes respiratory problems. Always be aware of local ozone levels when using specific products.

Radon

Radon gas—a tasteless, odorless and invisible gas—is the second leading cause of lung cancer in this country. The EPA suggests that all homes be tested. You can purchase your own test kit or hire a qualified contractor to conduct the testing.

Lead

Many homes still contain lead-based paint. Be aware that homeowners can expose family members to lead dust when scraping, sanding, stripping or demolishing painted areas.

Asbestos

This toxic material can live in your home, jeopardizing the health of all family members. A home inspection that tests for asbestos can be vital because asbestos materials may release fibers if disturbed, deteriorated or damaged.

Biological Contaminants

These contaminants—mold, bacteria, mildew, cockroaches and pollen—can cause allergic rhinitis and asthma. Because these pollutants are exacerbated by moisture and nutrients, keep the indoor humidity at 30-50 percent to inhibit their growth. Also remove damp environments.

The bottom line is never ignore the warnings about indoor air pollutants. And be sure to understand what you can do keep your family healthy.