Is Your Home Healthy and Comfortable?
Indoor air pollution can be a serious health risk. Studies by the Environment Protection Agency have shown that the air inside buildings can be 2 to 5 times more polluted than the air outside, and sometimes much more. And since the average American spends so much time indoors, we have to take inside air quality seriously, especially for seniors, those with breathing problems, and small children.
You probably care mostly about your heating and cooling keeping the temperature right, and may not think much about the quality of the air circulating through the house. Whole house systems control temperature, but they also impact the air quality in terms of filtration and humidity levels of what we breathe into our lungs. Both of those affect our health.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor pollution sources can release gases or microscopic particles into the air. Such things as carpets, paint, insulation, spray cans, insecticide, cleaners, soaps, cosmetics and other common substances can cause indoor air quality problems in the home. One key problem is a low level of ventilation; not bringing in enough fresh outdoor air to dilute the pollution sources, and also not carrying out enough of them. This can be worsened on warm days or during periods of high humidity levels. HVAC systems must have an adequate free flow of outside air to work properly. Newer homes are better sealed against leaks, and may have higher pollutant levels than older, drafty or leaky homes.
According to EPA officials, major pollutants also include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood and tobacco products. They can produce carbon monoxide and other invisible and potentially deadly gases. Dust, mold and allergens can also easily and invisibly build up and spread throughout your home on air currents. Even outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides and fertilizer can get in your home.
The effects of poor indoor air quality can be immediate or delayed. Typical clues to air quality problems include headaches, dizziness, fatigue and irritation of eyes, nose and throat. Some exposure such as carbon monoxide poisoning can kill in minutes, but longer-term effects might include respiratory and heart diseases, as well as cancer.
There are options and solutions available:
• Reduce the Sources: Eliminate harmful sources such as smoking, and wood or coal burning stoves; keep cleaning products outside; remove asbestos and insulation products.
• Ventilate the house: Open windows and use screen doors occasionally; run bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans; operate window or attic fans when weather permits.
• Use air cleaners and filters: Use add-ons or modifications to your heating and air conditioning system to filter out contaminants and improve air quality. Ensure you do regular filter changes according to your system’s recommended schedule. You can also buy higher level filtration systems to remove more contaminants from the air.
If you aren’t sure that your indoor air quality is healthy, give us a call and let us take a look. We can check it for you and recommend options that will improve it. At Kaiser, we want your family to stay healthy, too!