When you think about air pollution, you probably think of smog over a busy city, or smoke stacks billowing sludge into the atmosphere. Perhaps the most dangerous air pollution, though, is what is in your home. You may be inhaling dangerous substances while you are comfortable in your home, and not even know it. Here are some common indoor air pollutants and how to keep you home clean.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Carbon monoxide (CO) may be odorless and invisible, but it is still very dangerous. Many jurisdictions are requiring homes to have a CO detector in their homes, much like homes are required to smoke detectors. If you inhale too much CO, your body will be unable to properly process oxygen, which is needed to function properly. Symptoms of CO poisoning include dizziness, nausea, and a increased heart rate. Too much CO can be fatal. Besides having a CO detector installed, have a professional inspect your heating system and any appliances that use combustion. If they are not installed or functioning properly then they could be releasing CO. Make sure if you do use combustion appliances that you are in a well-ventilated space.
Radon is a gas that can be found everywhere. It is a natural product of uranium breaking down in the Earth. However, high levels of radon exposure over time can increase the risk of getting lung cancer. You can get a kit to test your home’s radon levels, or you can contact a professional to do the testing for you. If the levels in your home are higher than the safety standard, then only a qualified professional can remove it for you.
Nitrogen dioxide can cause irritation in your respiratory tract, your eyes, nose, and throat if it is inhaled. It is usually from combustion, and is very strong during a fire. If you are exposed to too much nitrogen dioxide, you could end up with a pulmonary edema, which is a liquid build up in your lungs that could be fatal. Exposure of any kind can damage your lungs, including giving you chronic bronchitis. As with carbon monoxide, make sure that your combustion appliances are installed properly and in good condition.
Everyone knows that smoking is very bad for your health, but even being near someone who is smoking is bad for you too. Secondhand smoke is the smoke from the end of someone’s cigarette, which is essentially tobacco that has not fully burned. It can cause irritation of the eyes and lungs almost immediately. Over time, extended exposure can pose all of the same threats that smoking can cause. These include lung cancer, asthma, and many other respiratory diseases.
Lead used to be a common component of paint before it was found to be hazardous to human health. It is still present in many houses, and can be inhaled if particles get airborne. Lead can do a lot of damage, such as to the brain and to your nervous systems. With children, it can affect their growth and development, and cause behavioral issues due to the effect it can have on their developing brains. If your home was built before the late 70’s, then you might have lead in your paint. Make sure to wipe down your surfaces, especially in play areas. If you notice chipped paint, then keep children away.
Asbestos is a subset of minerals found in nature everywhere around the world. If asbestos is intact, it is perfectly safe, but when it flakes off, then it can be hazardous if it gets inhaled. Asbestos inhalation can lead to many lung issues, such as cancer and asbestosis, which is inflammation of the lungs. If you have intact materials in your home made with asbestos, then simply leave them be. If they are breaking down, you must have them removed by a professional.
Don’t let indoor air pollution affect your health or the health of your family. Do what you can to protect your home from dirty air.
Advanced Air Quality Consultants provides superior HVAC maintenance services in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area. If you need heating and cooling assistance, contact us online or call us at 651-336-1103.