The majority of our lives are spent indoors, whether sleeping, in school or working. Unfortunately, the lack of ventilation found in many homes and buildings can result in higher quantities of contaminants, creating poor indoor air quality. This, in turn, can result in a number of health ailments. The type of air you breathe in your own house has quite the effect on your life in general. Here are five things you may not know about the air quality in your home.
A Little Mold Can Have Big Effects
Mold finds its ideal home when the tiny spores locate an area containing moisture. It doesn’t have to be a large area of wetness or even an obvious one, so if you have had a flood, a broken pipe or a slow leak, you want to be proactive in drying the area and getting humidity under control. Once mold finds its way in, it quickly becomes invasive, growing and damaging your property at a rather fast pace. However, it can affect more than just the structure of a building. Mold is transferred in small spores that are lightweight and easily airborne, making it easy to breathe in the contaminants without realizing it. For someone with an allergy to mold, this can result in sneezing, rashes, itching and other symptoms of hay-fever. It can also exacerbate asthmatic symptoms. Even if allergies aren’t present, mold can irritate one's eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Extended exposure can result in even more serious conditions and ailments. While the first step is to remove the conditions that helped create the mold in the home, such as fixing leaks and ensuring all areas are dry, the air needs to be purified as well to ensure the airborne spores have been removed.
Better Air Quality = Higher productivity
If you have a home office, you might want to take measures to increase your air quality if you want to get more out of your workday. A study published by the International Centre for Indoor Environment and Energy, an organization from the Technical University of Denmark, shows that the better the indoor air quality is, the higher the output of productivity you can achieve. In fact, there can be upwards of a 9 percent difference based solely on the air around you. While it may cost a little extra to make the initial changes, it is projected that those particular expenses can be recouped by the boost of productivity that will come afterwards.
Radon May Be Present
Radon may sound like something out of a science-fiction film, but unfortunately it’s more than just a fictional plot twist in many homes. When naturally occurring uranium breaks down in the soil, radon is released. Openings in your home that are near this part of the earth can become a portal for the odorless, colorless – and very dangerous -- gas to enter your home. It can be a slow but deadly process. Once it is breathed in, it breaks down further in your lungs, resulting in increasing damage to your respiratory tissue. Over 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are now being attributed to radon poisoning.
Pets Affect Air Quality
Most people associate pet allergies with an animal’s fur. However, this isn’t actually the case. The allergen is found in the dander (dead skin cells that have been discarded) and secreted fluids from the animal’s saliva or urine. These allergens can easily attach themselves to the hair, which is why the presence of the fur is commonly associated with allergic reactions. However, even when that fur is cleaned from an area, that doesn’t mean the dander is gone. Micro in size, dander is lightweight and can become airborne for some time before finding another surface on which to attach itself, whether fabric, flooring, carpets or clothing. Vacuuming and dusting can remove some, but these activities also stir up the air, causing some dust and dander to become airborne again. Even if a person with an allergy keeps their distance from a pet, they are still exposed to the dander simply by breathing in the air, which can trigger an allergic reaction. Air purification is necessary to filter out these pollutants that are too small to be visible, thus difficult to remove by manual cleaning methods.
What Gets Inside Stays Inside
Today’s homes are built with amazing precision and with much tighter construction, which is usually viewed as a positive characteristic. After all, that means warm air stays in during winter months, less conditioned air seeps out in the summer, and nature is kept outdoors. Unfortunately, this all means there is less natural ventilation in today’s homes. When doors and windows are opened, outdoor pollutants that make their way in can’t easily make their way back out again. This also goes for indoor contaminants such as chemicals associated with cleaning products, byproducts of heat sources, allergens, smoke and pet dander, which become trapped.
The risks associated with poor air quality are seldom visible to the naked eye, making them difficult to pinpoint and rectify. It is important to remain vigilant in removing pollutants from the air you breathe in your own home with purification and continued testing to ensure it remains the highest of quality.