You love working in your yard, sprucing up your home’s curb appeal. But the pollens and freshly cut grass make your allergy symptoms unbearable. Oddly, retreating to the house you find little relief. Perhaps your indoor air quality (IAQ) needs improvement as well; like the effects of the seasonal outdoor air, your indoor air can cause similar problems and more.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the “health effects from indoor air pollutants may be experienced soon after exposure or, possibly, years later.”
These five factors remind us IAQ is important, even critical, to our health and comfort in the immediate and long term.
Dangerous gasses (Radon, Nitrogen Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide). Radon, an odorless, colorless gas can, in increased levels, contribute to lung cancer. Nitrogen dioxide, formed from the burning of fossil fuels, promotes increased asthma attacks and a reduction in lung function. Carbon monoxide, also odorless, when released by malfunctioning HVAC systems, can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and even death.
- Mold. Mold or fungi, growing in and around your home, can release spores into the air, prompting severe allergic reactions in exposed individuals.
- Asbestos. This naturally occurring mineral, frequently found in older insulation, produces fibers when introduced into the air and breathed into the lungs. It can also promote greatly diminished lung function and lead to lung cancer.
- Lead. Prior to 1978, this soft metal was a common ingredient in house paint. When inhaled, however, lead damages the nervous system, brain, blood, and kidneys.
- Secondhand smoke. The smoke produced by burning tobacco products and the smoke exhaled by smokers greatly lowers IAQ. The EPA cites the following health effects of secondhand smoke: “Secondhand smoke causes cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), lung cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, and other serious health problems.”
Addressing poor IAQ in your home can be as simple as changing your furnace filter. However, major problems threatening your health need swift and professional attention. Consider calling a professional who will not only test the quality of your air but advise you on safe and effective ways to improve your IAQ and remedy the problems for you.