What are you breathing? It is a good question to ask ourselves. All of us face a variety of risks to our health as we go about our day-to-day lives. Driving in cars, flying in planes, engaging in recreational activities, and being exposed to environmental pollutants all pose varying degrees of risk. Some risks are simply unavoidable. The good news is indoor air pollution is one risk that you can do something about. Find out more below about what you are breathing and how to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) around you.
What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of indoor air quality problems in homes. Inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollution levels by not bringing in enough outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.
There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.
The relative importance of any single source depends on how much of a given pollutant it emits and how hazardous those emissions are. In some cases, factors such as how old the source is and whether it is properly maintained are significant. For example, an improperly adjusted gas stove can emit significantly more carbon monoxide than one that is properly adjusted.
Common Continuous Sources of Indoor Pollution:
- Building Materials
- Household Products
- Air Fresheners
Intermittent Sources of Indoor Air Quality Deterioration
- Unventilated Or Malfunctioning Stoves
- Space Heaters
- Solvents In Cleaning And Hobby Activities
- Paint Strippers
- Redecorating Activities
- Cleaning Products
High pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods after some of these activities.
When temperature plummets outside so does the humidity inside your home. The air inside your home begins to feel dry and parched. It doesn't take long before you can see the results. Dry air absorbs moisture from furniture, wood floors, woodwork, paintings and musical instruments. Static electricity is a frequent annoyance.
And, it you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or asthma, the dry air will aggravate their conditions. The addition of a humidifier to your central heating or air conditioning system is the perfect remedy. Whether you live in an area with winter conditions or in a area where the climate is hot and dry. Trane humidifiers are designed to add just the right amount of moistureso you can be comfortable.
Immediate effects may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term and treatable. Sometimes the treatment is simply eliminating the person's exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be identified. Symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever, may also show up soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants.
The likelihood of immediate reactions to indoor air pollutants depends on several factors. Age and preexisting medical conditions are two important influences. In other cases, whether a person reacts to a pollutant depends on individual sensitivity, which varies tremendously from person to person. Some people can become sensitized to biological pollutants after repeated exposures, and it appears that some people can become sensitized to chemical pollutants as well.
Certain immediate effects are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases, so it is often difficult to determine if the symptoms are a result of exposure to indoor air pollution. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the time and place symptoms occur. If the symptoms fade or go away when a person is away from home, for example, an effort should be made to identify indoor air sources that may be possible causes. Some effects may be made worse by an inadequate supply of outdoor air or from the heating, cooling, or humidity conditions prevalent in the home.