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Guest Blog: 4 Common Indoor Air Quality Problems

Posted on December 29, 2011
by Wendy Stackhouse

This guest blog comes from Jim Gates, CAFS.

A number of different environmental factors that can result in common indoor air quality problems. These air pollutants and contaminants can be found in a wide variety of locations and can cause various health effects that could be very dangerous. Here are four of the most common causes of indoor air quality problems and information on how these issues can be remedied.

 

1. Environmental Tobacco Smoke

Environmental tobacco smoke is one of the most harmful air pollutants found in indoor air, containing more than 40 compounds that are known to cause cancer in humans or animals according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Health risks associated with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke include lung cancer, pneumonia, bronchitis, frequent ear infections, and asthma. The best ways to reduce contamination from environmental tobacco smoke is to ensure that the area where the smoking is taking place is well ventilated or to eliminate all smoking in any indoor areas.

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2. Biological Pollutants

There are many different types of biological pollutants that may be contaminating the indoor air that you breathe, including animal dander, dust mites, mold, bacteria, pollen, and viruses. Health risks associated with breathing in these contaminants include allergic reactions, asthma attacks, infectious illnesses, difficulty breathing, and digestive problems. The best way to reduce the number of biological pollutants present in indoor air is to invest in a high quality air filter with a high MERV rating for the buildings heating and cooling system that can trap many of the biological pollutants and remove them from the indoor air.

3. Pollutants from Indoor Combustion Sources

Indoor combustion sources, such as wood stoves, fireplaces, and gas space heaters, release harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and acid aerosols into the indoor air when used. Exposure to these harmful contaminants can result in disorientation, excessive fatigue, lung disease, certain cancers, and increased risk of respiratory infections. It is important to use these items in well-ventilated areas to prevent the accumulation of these harmful contaminants and installing a high quality air filter containing activated carbon in the building’s heating and cooling system will remove many of these gaseous pollutants from the indoor air.

4. Chemicals and Pesticides

Household chemicals and pesticides are widely used across the nation to make our homes more pleasant to live in, but the pollutants released from these items can be very harmful to the health of everyone exposed to them. Common health issues associated with exposure to chemicals and pesticides include irritation of the eyes, nose, or respiratory tract, muscle twitching, visual disorders, memory impairment, damage to the central nervous system, and certain types of cancers. Exposure to chemicals and pesticides should be kept to a minimum and these items should only be used in the amounts recommended by the labeling while the area being treated is well ventilated.

(1) U. S. Environmental Protection Agency – Publications and Resources – The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality – http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/insidestory.html

About the Author

Jim Gates, CAFS, is the brand manager for Quality Filters, Inc. (http://qualityfilters.com), a leading manufacturer and distributor of high quality home and commercial air filters. The company’s products are available online at BuyFilters.com (http://buyfilters.com).

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutionsand our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. We welcome your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and followus on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!

And thanks, Jim!

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