A home is where the heart is. It’s the place where our kids grow up, spend days with friends, and simply create great memories together. But, it can be disheartening to find out that the home you’ve always looked forward to for shelter and get some good night sleep is the same reason why illnesses randomly strike you and your family.
Most people are unaware of the fact that common health symptoms are actually related to the air quality that we breathe. Why? Because it’s the easiest element that we can get in contact with.
Unfortunately, unlike what most of us think, the air isn’t really that light. In fact, your skin is being pushed down with about 15 pounds of pressure per square inch at the moment. But it has become so familiar that we barely even notice it pushing down our skin. The good thing and bad thing (yes it’s both good and bad) is that our lungs recognize it and feel it, most especially if it’s already contaminated with toxins!
Air pollution can come from everyday occurrences such as drying paint, construction materials, smoke, allergens, rodent droppings, and dust mites. And ooh, did I mention that radon gas, the one that’s been linked to lung cancer, might just be lurking around your home? Yes, it does! Unfortunately, all these air pollutants can do something much more at a much greater speed if no hasty action takes place.
The best way to deal with air contamination is to first find out what are the types of air pollutants around the home so that an air quality inspection following a home inspection can be conducted immediately. Take a look at some of the common indoor air pollutants and how to deal with them.
Burning or combustion is a high-temperature chemical reaction between a fuel and oxidant that produces oxidized, often gaseous products in a mixture also called as smoke. The top pollutants produced by combustion are carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other particulate matters.
The problem is that Carbon monoxide causes an array of symptoms ranging from headaches and nausea to confusion and even unconsciousness. About 500 people in the US are killed per year due to high exposure to CO. NO2, on the other hand, irritates mucous membranes and causes shortness of breath. Long-term exposure to NO2 can put you at risk of lung infections. The best way to deal with CO is to install CO alarms near bedrooms and fuel-burning appliances. NO2 can also be detected with certain instruments. It is also best to ventilate any fire-burning areas such as kitchen, stovetop, or a fireplace with a fan or window to get rid of smoke accumulation inside the home.
2. Radon Gas
This gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless which is the no.2 leading cause of lung cancer, with cigarette smoking being the first. Although radon kits are readily available, the Environment Protection Agency highly recommends that a radon inspection be done by licensed professional inspectors as even the recommended 4.0 pCi/L can still pose a health risk.
Asbestos occurs naturally in soil. However, it becomes a health risk factor as soon as it enters your home. This heat resistant mineral fiber has long been used as building material and insulator but has recently been discovered that inhalation of its fibers is linked to lung cancer, lung scarring, and mesothelioma. Its fibers become an issue when disturbed so one thing you can do is to leave them untouched. However, an aging home may need repairs and DIY remedies is not actually a good idea. It is best that you call a licensed professional to do the job.
4. Volatile organic compounds
Countless consumer products such as paint, glue to printers and even shower curtains are considered VOCs or volatile organic compounds. The boiling point is so low that they off-gas lots of vapor even at room temperature and VOC vapor causes health issues including nausea and headache. In worst cases, brain damage and cancer.
The best way to deal with VOC-containing products is to keep their fumes from accumulating by ventilating the area with fans or windows.
5. Oh the infamous mold and mildew
Sometimes we just think that the green or black patches on your wall are part of the “wear-and-tear” phenomenon. Probably for some reason, it is but obviously because of all the moisture your wall has been exposed to over the years. Apparently, mold and mildew do not necessarily occur only in wet areas such as bathrooms. Even damp clothing and or wet floor or rug are all good breeding grounds. Mold can cause a lot of health problems. The first way to deal is to fight moisture, keep the humidity indoors below 60 percent and use a humidifier to dry the air out. Home inspection companies also offer mold inspections so better call for professional help.
6. Animal droppings
Animal feces and urine such as from rodents and cockroaches and even pet dander and airborne protein from cat saliva can trigger allergic reactions and asthma especially to highly sensitive individuals. Deep cleaning and proper ventilation are all good practices to eliminate or alleviate these unavoidable allergens.
Trying to get rid of indoor pollutants by using pesticides only raise the risk of increasing the toxicity in your home. According to EPA, pesticides are inherently toxic and using non-chemical alternatives may be a great idea. Also, be more critical about the chemical content on the products you use since many carcinogenic pesticides like chlordane are now banned in the US.
These unavoidable air pollutants may be really out of control but it’s always best to keep concentrations at a minimum.
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