Today we’re going to talk about indoor air pollution and how you can decrease your exposure to pollutants that are linked to unhealthy effects such as asthma and respiratory irritation. Health effects from indoor air pollutants may be acute and happen immediately following exposure or they could take years to show up.
Acute Symptoms from single exposure or repeated exposure:
- irritation of eyes, nose, and/or throat
Long-Term Effects (can show up years after exposure)
- respiratory disease
- heart disease
Indoor air pollution can come from a number of sources that release gases or particles into the air. According to the EPA, inadequate ventilation can increase indoor pollutant levels by not bringing in enough fresh outdoor air to dilute emissions from indoor sources and by not carrying indoor air pollutants out of the home. High temperature and humidity levels can also increase concentrations of some pollutants.
Radon is a cancer-causing, radioactive gas and comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil. Nearly 1 in 15 homes in the US is estimated to have elevated levels of radon. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it. You can test for radon in your home, it’s easy and inexpensive. Most importantly check basements where there is less ventilation. View the EPA citizen’s guide HERE to read about how to have your home tested.
Below is a map of the high radon zones.
If your home tests positive for high levels of radon, you can ask for a recommendation from your inspector for radon mitigation systems. Our radon mitigation system gives me huge peace of mind!
Carbon Monoxide & Natural Gas:
We know of several people with stories of carbon monoxide exposure or natural gas leaks. While natural gas has a very specific odor, carbon monoxide does not. Health effects associated with carbon monoxide exposure are:
- chest pain
- impaired vision
- reduced brain function
- flu-like symptoms
- Can be FATAL at very high concentrations
Average levels in homes without gas stoves vary from 0.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm). Levels near properly adjusted gas stoves are often 5 to 15 ppm and those near poorly adjusted stoves may be 30 ppm or higher (EPA).
The good news is, there is a very inexpensive way to monitor these things in your home.
This is the one we have, you can get it HERE. Or pick one up at your local hardware store. We actually just got a second one for Christmas so we’ll have one upstairs and downstairs. They are inexpensive so if you do not have a home that is total electric, it’s absolutely necessary to have one.
The simplest way to help remove indoor air pollution is through proper maintenance of your HVAC systems and replacing your filters on a regular basis. I’m guilty of forgetting to replace my filter but did you know you can set up Amazon shipments so you don’t ever forget to order another filter? True story!
Ya’ll it was gross so um yeah I was behind. But really this is super important to keep your unit functioning correctly and keep your air clean.
But good news, we have new filters in (we have 2 units so I have to remember both!) so no yuckies in the air and my favorite HVAC people won’t have to lecture me when my furnace locks up because I’m flighty and forget to change filters.
Another fun fact, I like to put a few drops of purification or thieves on my filters. I recently heard of people doing this and thought, why not? It totally makes sense! Purification helps with home odors and Thieves, well we all probably know the amazing benefits of Thieves, but if you don’t you are so missing out and I’d love to share!
In addition to the usual ways we purify air, I also like to diffuse essential oils in my home for additional health and wellness benefits. Just make sure if you have small children or pets in your home to follow safety recommendations for diffusing oils in your home.
So I hope this is a great start to purifying the air in your home and learning about the different ways you can test your indoor quality. What is your biggest takeaway from this post? Do you have a story to share about indoor pollution exposure?