Indoor Air Quality

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 can spend up to 90 percent of their time inside

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.

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 cigarette smoke
  • Mutagens 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 (through evaporation and aerosolization)
  • 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 the 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

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