You think you’re coming down with a cold, or allergies, then recover and get sick again. You think it’s a bug the kids brought home, but it could be indoor air pollution. Protecting your family from the long-term and short-term effects of this invisible health problem may be easier than you think.
Get Some Fresh Air Flowing Through Your Home
Why Does Indoor Air Quality Matter?
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is the measure of the quality and cleanliness of the air in your home, workplace, and other buildings. The U.S. Environmental Protections Agency notes that poor IAQ due to indoor air pollution can cause “irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.” These symptoms may be mistaken for a cold that doesn’t go away or allergies. Long-term exposure can cause respiratory diseases, and, depending on the pollutant, even heart disease and cancer.
Find the Source
The easiest way to reduce indoor air pollution is to find the source. In some cases, this can be readily apparent. New items like flooring, cabinets, and furniture may have a chemical residue that needs to outgas outside for a day or so. Spray paint should always be used according to manufacturer instructions, and ideally used outside. Obviously, smoking indoors will cause a variety of health concerns.
Your home may also have hidden dangers. Look for signs of water damage, such as staining in ceilings or on walls, and check for drainage problems. These can lead to mold and mildew that can release spores into the air. Older homes may have asbestos building materials, such as insulation. (Note: Asbestos materials must be removed by a qualified professional.)
In the battle against indoor air pollution the most important weapon, both for and against you is proper HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system maintenance. A poorly maintained system with dirty filters, hidden mold-producing leaks, and dusty, blocked air ducts could harm you by polluting your air instead of cleaning it.
Protect Your Family
While an old HVAC system needing replacement or service can make your family sick, a newer system with modern filtration systems, or a well-maintained, leak-free system with clean filters and ducts, can help prevent other types of unseen air pollution from harming your family.
A regular maintenance plan can help keep your HVAC system working on your side, rather than working against you. Replace filters regularly according to manufacturer’s recommendation. A service professional can check for leaks, air duct blockage, or broken parts. A maintenance plan can pay for itself over time by improving your system’s energy efficiency, preventing expensive problems, and extending your system’s lifespan.
The health problems caused by indoor air pollution can be scary, even fatal, but with a little planning and attention, you can protect your family, improve your comfort, and even save money in the long run.