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What Are the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants?

Air pollution brings to mind dark grey clouds of smoke billowing from industrial chimneys or exhaust from old cars in an outdoor setting. Though it may not be visible, our indoor air could have more pollutants than you can imagine. In some instances, indoor air contamination levels might even be five times higher than outdoor air.

The average American spends over 85% of their time indoors, hence the need for enhancing air quality in your home. In the last two decades, concerns about indoor air quality have been growing due to its potential adverse effects on health.

Whether it is at home or the office, the air quality you breathe ought to be of the highest standard possible. By identifying the source of air quality problems, you’ll be in a better position to control the contaminants and ensure that the air in your living space is safe to breathe. Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing has compiled this list for you of the most common air contaminants inside your home.

1. Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide or CO is a popular colorless and odorless gas produced when fossil fuels are not burned completely. It is highly toxic, and exposure to high concentration can lead to death. However, even low concentrations of carbon monoxide can have adverse effects on an individual’s health. The CO sources inside your house may include unvented gas space heaters, leaking furnaces, gas stoves, or tobacco smoke.

It is recommendable to have your heating appliances checked annually by a professional to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your home or office. Additionally, ensure adequate ventilation in the kitchen area as it can be a significant source of this deadly gas.

2. Asbestos

Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber found in rocks and soil. Its strength and heat-resistant properties make it ideal for insulation and roofing. As asbestos wears out, it forms dust particles that find their way into the living space and have the potential of causing severe respiratory complications. Exposure to asbestos particles over long periods is known to cause lung cancer and other severe respiratory diseases. Due to its health risks, many countries are banning the import, manufacture, and distribution of asbestos materials.

3. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

VOCs are chemicals emitted by consumer products or generated as a result of decomposition. Examples of VOCs include formaldehyde, naphthalene, and benzene. Some of the most common sources of volatile organic compounds indoors include paints, lacquers, glues, processed wood, and new furniture. To avoid VOC emissions, go for the healthier options of paints and adhesives available in the market. Additionally, you can opt for secondhand furniture over new as new furniture can introduce VOCs in your living area.

4. Molds and Mildew

Molds and mildew thrive in moist and warm environments. They produce spores and microscopic airborne particles that have the potential of causing inflammation in the respiratory system when inhaled. Besides the toxic particles, Molds and mildew are unsightly and can also emit foul odor affecting your home’s comfort level. It is essential to ensure that your home’s humidity is at the optimum level and that all the moist surfaces are dried off to keep molds at bay.

5. Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally. Due to its tasteless, odorless, and colorless nature, radon can be tough to detect. Although it occurs in trace amounts, radon can seep into the house through cracks or floors and become a problem if the air isn’t changed regularly. Extended exposure to radon gas can cause cancer. This radioactive gas ranks second among the leading causes of lung cancer in America.

Testing is the only way to establish the level of radon concentration in a particular space. However, it is easy to control its levels in your living and working space by ensuring that area is well ventilated. Increasing the air exchange rate in your home or building can also eliminate this gas.

7. Secondhand Tobacco Smoke

Exposure to secondhand smoke is also referred to as passive smoking. According to the EPA, secondhand smoke contains over 7000 harmful chemicals that can stay suspended in the air hours after the smoke is released. Like primary smokers, secondary smokers run the risk of lung cancer, stroke, heart disease, and many other health complications associated with smoking. It is essential to designate your house as a no-smoking zone to eliminate secondhand smoke’s health risk. If anyone has to smoke, it would be best if they do so outside to avoid compromising the air quality indoors.

8. Wood Smoke

Smoke comprises gases and small particulate matter that can remain suspended in the air for long periods. Wood remains the fuel of choice for heating in many homes. While it is beneficial to the people who mainly depend on it for heating, poorly ventilated or leaking stoves can allow the smoke to seep into the building. If you are still using a wood stove for heating, consider switching to modern heating systems that are more energy-efficient. Besides, modern units also contribute positively to the air quality inside your home.

9. Dust Particles

In most instances, dust particles usually find their way into houses through our interactions with the outdoor environment. Some of the finest dust particles can remain suspended in the air for long periods and can be a potential health hazard. Due to the diversity in dust composition, keeping it out should be a priority in every home or office premises. Dust particles in homes include pollen, animal droppings, and heavy metals. Ensure that the house is well ventilated to eliminate the dust particles and replace them with clean air. Additionally, make sure that the place is adequately vacuumed and mopped to get rid of dust from the floors, shelves, and racks.

10. Lead Particles

Lead (Pb) is a toxic heavy metal that can cause adverse health complications if consumed. Until 1978 lead was widely used in the manufacture of house paints; before the government placed a ban on its use due to its adverse health effects. When fragmented into small pieces, the lead particles become part of the building’s particulate matter. When inhaled or consumed in any form, its body levels keep accumulating, leading to cardiovascular, nervous, and reproductive systems’ health issues. Like other dust particles, lead can get access to your home through your interaction with the outside environment. Scrapings from old paints can also be another source of lead pollution in the house. To ensure the safety of your family, keep the kids’ play areas clean, mop your floors frequently and wipe flat areas and window ledges regularly using damp cloths.

Final Thoughts

To effectively address low air quality problems, you need to understand the most common causes of indoor air pollutants. This list highlights some of the most common sources of air pollutants inside the home. You can look at it as starting point when identifying common indoor contaminants depending on your prevailing circumstances. To adequately address low air quality issues, investing in a high-quality AC/Heat system can be a good place to start.

Knowledge. Experience. Skill

Professionals at Riteway Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing can also help you with all your air quality issues if you need assistance. Our highly experienced team will carry out air quality tests and offer tailor-made solutions that will restore fresh air in your living space. Besides air cleaning, we are also specialists in heating, cooling, AC/Heat installations, and plumbing services. If you reside in Tucson, AZ, and the surrounding regions, contact us today for any of the above services. We look forward to serving your home comfort needs.