The Air Inside Your Home and How It Affects You

February 25, 2009

The Three Culprits of Indoor Air Pollution

Home Indoor Air qualityAccording to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air inside your home can be as much as five times more polluted than outdoor air!

Ever wonder why you sneeze so much in certain homes? The reason is the air. A lot of families suffer from respiratory problems, allergies, and other health problems due to the qualify of their indoor air at home. Organisms such as dust mites and mold are the main culprits. Other pollutants include natural gases such as radon, which is radioactive, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas which is formed as natural deposits of uranium throughout the earth’s crust decay.

One method that prevents the entry of radon into your home is called active soil depressurization. This system consists of pvc pipe connected to the soil either through a hole in the slab, a sump lid connection or beneath a plastic sheet in a crawl space. Attached to the pipe is a quiet, continuously operating fan that discharges the radon to a safe location outside of the home. The average installation cost: $1,200. Radon in the home is not common, but definitely something that should be noted when making your home’s indoor air quality a priority.

Air Pollutant #1: Mold

Mold is one of the most harmful indoor pollutants that most people have to deal with. A Lot of people deal with mold after a flood, but mold can form even with out drastic conditions. As long as rooms are at a warm temperature and with a high moisture content (above 70% relative humidity) mold can form in wood, carpet, and drywalls. The most common areas of the home where mold can form are in dark, poorly circulated areas such as the attic, closets, and bathrooms.

To remove mild cases of mold from your walls, use a mixture of mild soap and water or water and trisodium phosphate (TSP). Serious cases of mold should be handled by professionals.

Air Pollutant #2: Dust

Did you ever wonder where all that dust comes from in your home? Would you believe it if I told you that YOU could be the culprit?

It is estimated that humans lose 30,000 – 40,000 dead skin cells each and every minute. Furniture fabric, bedding , and clothes release fibers every time they are used or disturbed. Pets also contribute to house dustby shedding skin cells and hair. If your home is carpeted, there are even more fibers being released into the air. Dust mites (tiny organisms) can eat about anything organic and flourish in homes with above fifty to sixty percent humidity. In order to prevent dust, the best solution is a good filtration system. Filters must be changed regularly. Vacuuming is also a great way to keep the dust down.

In all, dust is almost inevitable, but having a properly sealed home keeps dust particles out and clean filters inside the home help regulate the airflow to keep your home relatively dust free.

Air Pollutant #3: Radon

As we touched upon earlier, Radon is a natural gas that can seep inside the home through the foundation of the home. The EPA and Surgeon General recommending testing for radon in all homes and reducing radon if levels are above 4 picocuries per liter. You an get do-it-yourself test kits from home improvement stores.

Professionals are recommended for getting rid of the radon. Once again, the remedy for preventing this problem is done through sealing the foundation of the home which diverts the gases from seaping into the home. If you have a new home, building radon-resistant features only costs on average from $100 to $300. Definitely a great value to insure indoor air quality of your new home.

Another area of Radon concern for homeowners is now being found in granite counter tops. Who knew something so beautiful could potential be so harmful to your indoor air quality?

Learn more about Indoor Air Quality and greening the inerior of your home.

Image credit: leeschaefer at Flickr under a Creative Commons license