When you walk outside on a particularly hot day in the city, you can often detect a change in the air quality as smog blankets the skyline. On days like this, it gets easier to notice the higher levels of pollution in the air outside, but what about the air inside your home?
Just as polluted air outdoors can be harmful to your health, household air can also contain harmful particulates that are not detectable by sight or smell. Poor indoor air quality affects children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with heart and lung conditions the most severely and can cause or contribute to conditions such as asthma, allergies, congestion, skin rashes, fatigue and chronic headaches.
Poor indoor air quality can be difficult to spot, but knowing what to watch out for is key to improving your home’s air quality for your family. Here’s what you should be looking out for:
Humidity, Dampness and Moisture
Dampness is one of the most common causes of poor indoor air quality, and moisture can promote the growth of biological pollutants like mould, fungus, mildew pollen and spores. Bacteria growth is also encouraged in water-damaged materials and in the standing water of humidifiers or central air handling systems which can distribute these contaminants throughout the home.
It is important to look for signs of unusual dampness or moisture in your home because these areas can quickly become breeding grounds for toxic bacteria. If your home is air-tight for increased heating and cooling efficiency, that moisture can become trapped if it is not properly ventilated out. Air filters such as HEPA filters can help with these ventilation problems and filter out these harmful air particulates.
Smoke, Smell and Chemical Pollutants
Chemical pollutants are difficult to detect and can therefore be extremely dangerous as they come in the form of gases and vapours that are often impossible to see or smell. Some common chemical pollutants that can be present in homes are nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead and asbestos. Second-hand smoke is another common chemical pollutant that can create serious health risks when not vented out properly.
It is important that you familiarize yourself with possible chemical contaminants in your home and the necessary precautions to avoid exposure such as installing a carbon monoxide detector. For more information on chemical pollutants and how you can avoid them, visit Health Canada’s indoor air contaminant fact sheet.
Dander and Dust
Pet dander and dust are common allergy triggers that reduce indoor air quality, and dust mite allergens are the most common trigger of asthma attacks. Dust mites are present in every home and getting rid of dust mites entirely is almost impossible, however proper air filtration, climate control and housekeeping can reduce the presence of pet dander and dust and improve your home’s air quality.
Still Worried About Your Home’s Air Quality?
Keeping the air quality in your home clean and safe is vital for the health of your family. If you are struggling with poor ventilation or are worried about your home’s air quality, contact an EcoLife representative and schedule an appointment with one of our experts.