Why Worry About Indoor Air Quality?

The Environmental Protection Agency ranks poor indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health. Levels of pollution inside can be 2 to 4 times higher (as much as 100 times higher) than outside air, and people typically spend up to 90 percent of their time inside

 

Types of Pollutants

Allergens such as pet hair or dander

Toxins such as lead, pesticides, ionizing radiation)

Irritants such as formaldehyde

Asphyxiants such as carbon monoxide

Pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, mold

Carcinogens such as asbestos and radon

Mutgens such as PAHs (byproducts of fuel burning) and radon

 

Forms that Pollutants Can Take

Particulates

Vapors

Fumes

Gases

Biological

 

Common Sources of Indoor Air Quality Problems

Water is the #1 source of indoor air pollution

Animals/pet dander

Bedding - after two years, 1/3 of the weight of a pillow is from contaminants (including dust mites) and dead skin cells. Consider purchasing good-quality pillow, mattress and box spring encasings.

Furniture and carpeting

Poorly maintained air conditioning system and/or dirty ducts. Change or clean your a/c filter regularly and have your ducts cleaned.

Combustion appliances

Local outside environment

Chemical storage - do not store chemicals near or and an air conditioning vent as that can distribute pollutants in the air you breathe

Personal hygiene products such as hair spray, air fresheners, spray-on sunscreen

Second-hand tobacco smoke

Insects

 

Key Questions

If you feel that you may have an indoor air quality problem, here are some questions to ask:

When did the problem start?

What things changed during that time?

What is the core problem?

Are there any other possible causes?

 

Radon

Radon testing kits can be acquired at:

Home Depot, Lowes or other large hardware retailers

Associated Radon Services www.radonserv.com

 

Ozone Generators

The American Lung Association does not recommend the use of devices that intentionally create ozone for the purpose of air cleaning or odor removal. Ozone is a powerful lung irritant. Ozone can reduce lung function. Low levels of ozone are not effective in removing most common household pollutants.

 

Resources

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/index.html

American Lung Association
1-800-LUNG-USA or www.LUNGUSA.org

 

Final Points

Clean air has no smell! If it has an odor, it is polluted!

Poor air quality can affect the health of your family. Many factors can affect air quality, and eliminating the source of pollution, increasing ventilation, and maintaining air conditioning systems regularly are the most effective methods of improving indoor air quality. Don't rely on "quick fixes."