On exceptionally hot days in Las Vegas, when the smog causes the air to become thick, it’s easy to see how poor outdoor air quality can negatively affect your health. A threat that’s just as real, though, is poor indoor air quality in your home. In some ways, poor indoor air quality carries with it more serious risks since many individuals in Las Vegas spend much of their time inside. That’s why it’s important to understand the various types of indoor pollutants so that you can properly manage them and ensure you’re breathing the healthiest air possible. To make sure you don’t overlook anything in your quest to improve your home’s air quality, here is a basic guide from The Cooling Company on indoor air pollutants.
Why Do Pollutants Collect Indoors?
In modern homes, there is a noticeable lack of ventilation. In terms of preserving conditioned air to keep the home comfortable, this is a good thing. However, in terms of allowing fresh air in to lower the concentration of pollutants, this is a bad thing. Another challenge is that pollutants can come from both indoors and outdoors. When you open doors or windows, you allow outdoor pollutants into your home, and they can’t escape once you close the house again. In addition, everything from installing new cabinets to cleaning your bathtub can release pollutants that can have negative health effects.
What Are Some Sources of Indoor Pollutants?
As mentioned, a surprising number of everyday materials and activities can release pollutants into your home. Some common sources you should be aware of include new furniture, carpet, paint, cigarette smoke, smoke from your fireplace, household cleaning products, personal care products, and moldy surfaces. These contaminants can also originate from cooking, heating, or vacuuming with an improperly maintained vacuum cleaner. Of course, the pollutants in your home will be different from those in the homes of others. Each residence is unique, which is why indoor air quality testing is so important. In the Las Vegas area, The Cooling Company can perform this service for you.
What Are Some of the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants?
People are often surprised when they find out about some of the dangerous substances in their home’s air. Many of the substances you’ll find there are more commonly associated with heavy industry. This lack of knowledge is one factor that causes people to ignore their indoor air pollution problem until they begin noticing negative health effects in themselves or their family members. Among a range of possibilities, some of the most common pollutants you’ll find in indoor air are lead, radon, volatile organic compounds, smoke, dust, and pesticides.
One of the most common sources of lead in indoor air is lead-based paint. If your home was built before 1978, there’s a good chance that there’s some lead paint on your walls underneath all the layers of new paint. If you sand the walls in your home during renovations, you could release lead dust into the air. Another surprising source of lead dust in your home is electrical cords. To this day, lead is used in the outermost layer of electrical cords to keep them pliable. As the cords break down, microscopic particles of this layer may float into the air, putting you at risk of lead exposure.
If you think that radon is only a problem for people with basements, that’s just not true. Elevated levels of radon can also be present in homes with crawl spaces or slab foundations. This colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas is a radioactive substance that can cause lung cancer with long-term exposure. In fact, radon is responsible for more cases of lung cancer every year than any other cause except for cigarette smoking.
Volatile Organic Compounds
When you bring new furniture into your home or install new carpet on your floor, it’s likely that you’re bringing volatile organic compounds along for the ride. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that manufacturers add to various items to enhance certain properties. Volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene glycol are the substances most commonly associated with the “new” smell of recently manufactured products. This “new” smell, though, can hide some potentially dangerous underlying problems.
If you have a fireplace in your home or if you or another family member smokes, that smoke is likely to linger among your home’s indoor pollutants. Smoke is the product of incomplete combustion of one or more materials. This is why smoke is visible. It’s filled with tiny particles that haven’t completely burned. It’s also one of the major sources of indoor pollution.
Since it’s such an ever-present nuisance, you may not think of dust as an indoor pollutant. Ultimately, though, dust doesn’t belong in your home. If you took some dust from your home and put it under a microscope, you’d find a surprising variety of materials, including dead skin cells, pollen, dust mites, microscopic paint chips, carpet fibers, and more. While many of these materials are usually harmless, they can cause negative health effects in sensitive individuals.
Health Effects Associated With Indoor Pollutants
Given the wide range of indoor pollutants, there is no single set of negative health effects that you can tie to these substances. Household dust can cause symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, runny nose, etc. Nausea, headaches, rashes, liver and kidney damage, and other problems tend to pop up after exposure to volatile organic compounds. Long-term exposure to lead can cause anemia, kidney and brain damage, death, and damage to the nervous system in unborn children. As mentioned, radon can cause lung cancer. With so many potential negative health effects associated with indoor pollutants, it’s a wise idea to address this problem directly.
How to Reduce the Impact of Outdoor Pollutants on Your Indoor Air
Although you can’t avoid using the doors on your home to enter and exit, you can take steps to slow the flow of outdoor pollutants into your home. One practical step is to check the daily air quality index report for your area. If the air quality is poor, it’s best to keep your windows closed, even if it’s a nice day when some outside airflow would be welcome.
Another unique solution is to install an air curtain over the door that you most frequently use to enter and exit your home. These devices create a wall of air that helps to keep outside air out, meaning that fewer pollutants will make their way indoors. Ensuring that your home is free from any large cracks around its foundation is another precaution to limit the entrance of outdoor pollutants.
Practical Steps to Release Fewer Indoor Pollutants Into the Air in Your Home
With so many potential sources of indoor pollution, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to entirely eliminate every indoor contaminant. However, there are some practical actions you can take that will reduce or eliminate certain sources of pollution so that you can more effectively tackle the pollution that remains. Start with the following tips.
Maintain Your Vacuum Cleaner
Although a vacuum cleaner can be helpful in removing dust from your home, this is only true if it has a properly maintained filter. If there’s no filter in place or the filter is dirty, you could end up spewing more dust into your home’s air than you remove from the surfaces around your house. Therefore, make sure to replace your filter when necessary.
Check the Materials in New Items
When buying new furniture, clothing, paint, or other products, you can source their composition materials to better understand how they’re made. Many items now on the market are specifically designed to reduce or eliminate volatile organic compounds. Although these items tend to be more expensive, they are highly recommended for their ability to improve your home’s indoor air quality.
Maintain Your HVAC System
An HVAC system, especially one powered by propane or natural gas, can be a major source of indoor air pollutants. That’s why you’ll want to make sure that your system is properly maintained. Simple steps like replacing your air filter at a minimum of every 90 days are just as important as more complex maintenance items, such as testing the burner on your furnace for proper fuel burn. Thorough routine maintenance by professionals such as those from The Cooling Company will prevent problems and enhance performance.
Clean Your Chimney
If you have a fireplace in your home, a clean chimney is vital to maintaining good indoor air quality. You should have your chimney inspected at least once a year. In addition to helping improve air quality, maintaining a clean chimney greatly reduces the chance of a chimney fire.
How To Remove Indoor Pollutants Once They’re in Your Home’s Air
Even with a valiant reduction effort, you’re still likely to have some pollutants in your home’s air. That’s when the next step of the process kicks in: removal. At The Cooling Company, we recommend several options to our customers to keep their home’s air clean.
Certain indoor plants are very beneficial for helping to clean the air, but for optimal air cleaning, a whole-home air purifier is best. This device works in tandem with your HVAC system to provide clean air throughout your home. An air purifier can remove tiny particles, even those that cause foul odors. Plus, many air purifiers are equipped with a UV filter that helps to destroy certain bacteria.
How to Test and Monitor Your Home’s Air Quality
When dealing with indoor pollutants, it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge. That’s why ongoing monitoring of your home’s indoor air is wise. You can install monitors for carbon monoxide, radon, mold, volatile organic compounds, and other pollutants in your home so that you can be alerted quickly if there’s a problem. The experts from The Cooling Company can also run a comprehensive indoor air quality test to find any major problems so that you can take the necessary steps to correct them.
Keeping Your Home Safe and Healthy
At The Cooling Company, your health and safety are our main priorities. To that end, we offer extensive indoor air quality testing and purification services. Besides air purifiers, we handle humidifiers, dehumidifiers, zoning systems, and duct replacement. We also offer complete repair, installation, and maintenance services for air conditioners and furnaces. To help you make the most of your HVAC system, we can install certain modifications, such as vent dampers, to help make better use of the conditioned air your system produces. Among residents of the Las Vegas area, we’ve earned a reputation for integrity and excellent service. If you’d like to discuss the air quality in your home or any other relevant topic, call us at The Cooling Company today.