There are a myriad of pollutants in your home that can impact indoor air quality and cause you discomfort, illness, and even more serious side effects. Having a high indoor air quality is important for your overall health – you only have to look at the literature about smoking to see how something can have a cumulative negative effect. At SafeAir, helping our customers understand what is in their home and how it can impact indoor air quality is one of the first steps to improving the air you breathe, and making for a healthier, safer indoor environment.
There is increasing research that suggests that airborne particles, pollutants, and microorganisms play a larger, and more dangerous, role in our overall health than we have previous suspected, with links to heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Some of the worst indoor pollutants that impact indoor air quality are:
1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
This class of indoor air contaminant has gained a wider profile more recently and has contributed to the popularity of ‘green’ cleaning agents and scent-free offices and public spaces. A VOC is simply an organic chemical that vaporizes at room temperature; that burst of citrus when you peel an orange is a VOC, but so is the acrid scent of turpentine or glue. It’s those VOCs that you need to worry about at home, since many are carcinogenic and can also cause short or long term irritation to the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Common symptoms: Headache, eye, nose and throat irritation
Frequent Culprits: Cleaning supplies, home scents, paints, glues
This common basement dweller can be a hidden problem in many homes, growing behind walls or underneath flooring. While mold itself is static, it sends spores into the air to colonize new places, and when breathed in, those spores can cause mild to severe allergic reactions.
Common symptoms: Flu-like congestion, headache, sneezing
Frequent Culprits: Wet, damp basements, attics, after a flood or major water event.
3. Carbon Monoxide
Known as the silent killer, carbon monoxide can spread throughout your home when it’s generated by inefficient stoves, fireplaces, or even bad furnaces. Carbon monoxide bonds with red blood cells within your body and displaces oxygen, causing dizziness, disorientation, and even death. Carbon monoxide levels in your home can be monitored by purchasing a wall-mounted detector at any hardware or department store.
Common symptoms: Dizziness, confusion, flu-like symptoms
Frequent Culprits: Appliances that run on gas, wood or fuel burning fireplaces
A growing concern for homeowners across Canada is radon gas. Like carbon monoxide, it is colorless and odorless; formed when uranium deep in the earth breaks down, it can seep into your basement through cracks in your foundation. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer after smoking, and since there are no warning signs, it’s important to have your home tested.
Common symptoms: None
Frequent Culprits: Radon has nothing to do with what you bring into your house – it’s deep underground. The only way to know is by testing.
Don’t let the worst pollutants get the best of you
The impact indoor air quality has on your health and wellness cannot be understated! Making sure that you are bringing safe materials into your home, that you are running all appliances safely and in good repair, and testing for contaminants such as mold or radon will pay dividends for you and your family in terms of health and safety. Get in touch with us at SafeAir if you have any concerns about the impact indoor air quality is having on your home and we’d be happy to help you learn more about your indoor air quality.