Spring is here! It’s time to throw open the windows and give the house a good airing. But wait – before you let the outside air inside your house, think about testing your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ). You’ll want to add improving IAQ to your spring cleaning list.
Poor IAQ lowers the quality of your health and comfort, creating issues as simple as a dry throat to illnesses as severe as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). By testing your home’s air quality, you can identify the sources of pollutants threatening IAQ and improve the situation.
Some of the pollutants commonly found in homes include:
- Radon: an odorless, colorless gas which, in increased levels, can contribute to lung cancer;
- Nitrogen Dioxide: a gas formed from the burning of fossil fuels, such as wood or natural gas, can prompt an increase in asthma attacks and overall reduced lung function;
- Carbon Monoxide: an odorless gas released by malfunctioning HVAC systems blocks the body’s use of oxygen, causing fatigue, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and even death;
- Mold: fungi that release spores into the air and can cause severe allergic reactions in exposed individuals;
- Asbestos: a naturally occurring mineral whose fibers, if introduced into the air and breathed into the lungs, can lead to lung cancer and greatly diminished lung function;
- Lead: a soft metal, used in some house paints until banned in 1978, when inhaled, severely damages the nervous system, brain, blood, and kidneys;
- Second Hand Smoke: environmental tobacco smoke when inhaled can prompt the same health issues as direct smoking of cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.
You can perform some home air quality tests as DIY projects by purchasing air quality monitors or at-home radon test kits, or by installing carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home (a recommended practice). However, what do you do if your IAQ fails the tests? And how do you test for the other pollutants like mold, asbestos, and lead?
Addressing the issues you discover can be as simple as changing your furnace filter. But major problems threatening your family’s health require swift and professional attention.