Air quality is an important factor in our day-to-day health. According to the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), poor indoor air quality can have a profound effect on health.
Health effects of poor indoor air quality include:
● Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat
● Headaches, dizziness, and fatigue
● Respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer
These issues may be caused by several airborne pollutants in your home, including radon,
particulate matter, and bacteria. While some of these pollutants are well-known and guarded against, others may surprise you.
Which Air Pollutants May Be In My Home?
Indoor air quality is dependent on a number of factors. Common indoor air pollutants you might encounter around the home include:
● Asbestos dust: Asbestos was often used in construction products produced before
1980. Being exposed to asbestos can lead to diseases including lung cancer and
● Carbon monoxide: Carbon Monoxide (CO) can be created when things are burned.
Exposure to this toxic compound can be lethal, especially indoors.
● Dust mites: Dust collects around the house from daily activities. However, increased
levels of dust can be an asthma irritant and may hide more serious problems like mold
● Lead: Lead is a soft metal often used in paints produced before 1978. Lead exposure
and poisoning can be particularly harmful in children, causing slowed development and
problems with learning, behavior, hearing, and speech.
● Legionella bacteria: This bacteria may be found in poorly maintained air conditioning or
heating systems. Exposure to Legionella may cause Legionnaires’ disease, a form of
● Mold: Molds grow on wet or damp surfaces and have the potential to destroy furniture
and home finishings and affect health. Inhaling or touching mold can cause allergic
reactions in sensitive individuals. ● Pet dander: Pet dander sheds from the skin and fur of animals and can cause dust
buildup and allergic reactions.
● Smoke: Indoor smoke can cause lung irritation and trigger asthma in sensitive
individuals. Long-term exposure can also cause more serious conditions, such as
● Radon: Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, and odorless gas. Exposure to radon
can cause lung cancer.
Many homeowners are aware of the dangers of radon and carbon monoxide and may have
detection devices in the home. However, other pollutants require more rigorous measures to protect your home.
For example, irritants like asbestos dust and lead may be present in the building materials used to construct your home. In these cases, it is important not to attempt to remove these toxins on your own. Dedicated asbestos abatement professionals and construction contractors should be contacted to deal with these matters.
Disturbing contaminated materials, including asbestos products, lead paints, and molds, may lead to more airborne contaminants.
How Can I Protect My Home From Poor Air Quality?
Poor indoor air quality can have long-lasting effects on you and your family’s health. However, the good news is many of the risk factors and pollutants mentioned above can be easily measured and addressed.
Ways to improve air quality in your home include:
● Contact a licensed professional to test your home for lead and asbestos. If they find
evidence of these toxins, you should contact a remediation professional to remove or
encapsulate these contaminants.
● If someone in your home is allergic to pet dander, consider a hypoallergenic breed of
dog or cat.
● Invest in carbon monoxide alarms, radon detection kits, and smoke alarms. Make sure
you replace these regularly and keep them in working order.
● Have an HVAC professional service your air conditioning and heating systems to ensure
they are clean and working properly.
● Keep an eye on areas of the home that collect moisture. If they never dry, contact a
construction professional to find ways to fix these problems, including installing fans and
● Regularly clean surfaces where dust and pet dander may settle.
Many of these are simple measures that can increase your family’s health and development.