The air we breathe while indoors can often have more pollutants than the air outside. Common household items can pollute the air, and specific pollutants are more likely to impact us than others. Once they have been identified, we can get rid of these pollutants through different means such as cleaning and replacing them with healthier options. Below, we take a look at some of the most common indoor air pollutants.
Asbestos is a mineral bonded with coal dust and water to create fibers to make its way into the air. It can be found in building materials such as brick, cement, floor tile, carpet, and upholstery or naturally created in soil and rocks. If you work with asbestos, it can become airborne.
Lead is a heavy metal typically found in paint, gasoline, ceramic glazes, plumbing pipes, or brass. It can impact children because they are more likely to put their hands or toys in their mouths when exposed without knowing that they have Lead on them.
Stoves and Heaters
Stoves and heaters, including gas ranges, can produce carbon monoxide emissions if used indoors. Carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless. When we breathe it in, it binds to our red blood cells and displaces the oxygen from them.
Pesticides are insecticides used to control insects in or near the home for other reasons. Pesticides are powerful chemicals that should not be left untreated because they can cause breathing problems and may cause even more serious problems by entering the body through skin contact or ingestion.
Mold spreads in wet and humid conditions. If a home has leaks, mold can grow and contaminate the indoor air. Symptoms of mold exposure include coughing, wheezing and nasal symptoms or sinus irritation.
Wood smoke is often the biggest indoor air pollutant in a home because it contains harmful particulates that can trigger asthma and other problems. Inhaling wood smoke from a fireplace or woodstove can lead to bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses.
Indoor Particulate Matter
Particulate matter is a diverse group of solid and liquid particles found in the air indoors. These particles are less than 2.5 microns, which is the size of a particle in the human respiratory system, including dust mites and pollen. While there are many different types of particulate matter, wood smoke is one of the biggest culprits because it contains harmful particulates that can trigger asthma and other problems.
Radon is a radioactive gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. There are two types of radon gas: decay-type and skeletal-type. Decay type, which makes up a large portion of all radon, is made of atoms with a short half-life, and it will dissipate into the air very quickly. The skeletal type has a longer half-life and disperses into the air slowly. There was once a concern that some homes had high levels of toxic gases such as radon, carbon monoxide, or methane from cracks in their foundations or crawl spaces.
Formaldehyde is a gas found in car emissions, plywood, treated lumber, paint, adhesives, and in buildings where it comes from cement. Formaldehyde is commonly used as a wood preservative to prevent mold and rot. Some new homes use formaldehyde because it offers many benefits over other preservatives, including helping to control insects. Some concerns are that formaldehyde may cause cancer if inhaled over long periods.
The most common household pollutants can be easily identified and replaced safely with healthier options. This can help reduce any health risks caused by these pollutants and improve the quality of indoor air for home occupants, improving living conditions and creating a healthier indoor environment.