indoor air qualityWhile you’re going about your day, the quality of the air you’re breathing is probably the last thing on your mind. However, the Environmental Protection Agency found indoor air quality is worse than outside. It affects your health and comfort. There are six main sources of indoor air pollution.

6 sources of indoor air pollution

Poor indoor air quality is often linked to headaches, congestion, dizziness, excessive fatigue, and irritation. Over time, you may develop asthma and chronic lung disease.

There are six main sources of indoor air pollution. Identifying them in your home, will put you one step closer to improving indoor air quality.

Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces, Chimneys and Tobacco Products

Combustion products can release major pollutants including carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particles. Combustion gases and particles also come from chimneys and flues that are improperly installed or maintained. Environmental tobacco smoke (“secondhand smoke”) is the mixture of smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and smoke exhaled by the smoker.

Building Materials & furnishings

Pressed wood products (paneling, cabinetry, particleboard, fiberboard) and furniture made with these wood products, as well as foam insulation, textiles, carpeting, and glues, can contain formaldehyde. Asbestos is in deteriorating, damaged or disturbed insulation, fireproofing, acoustical materials and floor tiles. Lead in old paint, contaminated soil, dust and drinking water poses a hazard too.

Biological contaminants

Biological contaminants include bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander, and cat saliva, house dust mites, cockroaches, and pollen.

Household products and chemicals

Maintaining a clean home or office seems straightforward enough: By routinely disinfecting surfaces, vacuuming carpets, and mopping floors, you can avoid spreading germs or bacteria among family members or co-workers.

While organic material like pet dander, mold, and dust mites cause health issues you also have to be careful how you clean and remove them.

But the reality is not so simple. Chemicals used at home create some of the most serious health hazards. It’s a challenge facing even the cleanest homes and buildings. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is more seriously polluted than outdoor air. And the fact is, people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors. That adds up to a potentially significant exposure.

Products include paints, varnishes, paint strippers, and other solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleansers and disinfectants; moth repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies and dry-cleaned clothing. These products can release organic compounds while you are using them, and elevated concentrations can persist in the air long afterward.

Central heating, cooling systems, and humidifiers

Contaminated central air handling systems can become breeding grounds for mold, mildew and other sources of biological contaminants and can then distribute these contaminants through the home. Problems during installation, operation, maintenance and servicing the HVAC system can prevent it from operating as designed.

You also need to regularly clean humidifiers and dehumidifiers.

Outdoor sources

Outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides and outdoor air pollution

The most common source of indoor radon is uranium in the soil or rock on which homes are built. Radon gas enters homes through dirt floors, cracks in concrete walls and floors, floor drains and sumps. Any home may have a radon problem – new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes and homes with or without basements.

How to improve indoor air quality (IAQ)

While opening windows and using an air filter can help improve air quality, the best way of dealing with pollutants is to keep them from entering the air in the first place. Be sure to:

  • Schedule HVAC maintenance at least once a year
  • Avoid smoking indoors
  • Clean your home frequently and thoroughly
  • Use household products as directed
  • Get an energy audit

An energy audit verifies adequate ventilation which affects your indoor air quality.