Since most of our time is spent inside of buildings, either at work, school or home, the quality of the air we breathe while indoors is pretty essential. This is what is known as “Indoor Air Quality”, and understanding how it can affect your health and that of your loved ones can go far in reducing illness or other concerns due to polluted indoor air. If your home has poor indoor air quality, you may be susceptible to health effects with symptoms that could appear immediately, or long after initial exposure.
Immediate Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
Some common immediate health effects that may be caused by indoor air pollution include headaches, fatigue, dizziness, watering or itchy eyes, or a runny nose. Since these symptoms are similar to symptoms of the common cold, it could be difficult to tell whether or not poor indoor air quality is the culprit. If your symptoms improve once you leave your home and return shortly after re-entering your home, you may have an issue with indoor air quality.
Long Term Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
On the other hand, you may not see the ill health effects of polluted air until years later, either from a long period of exposure or repeated encounters with the pollutant. Unfortunately, these effects can be much more serious than those similar to a common cold. Long term health effects from poor IAQ can include respiratory problems, cancer, or heart disease. Therefore, it’s advisable to ensure you have good indoor air quality, even if you’re not currently experiencing any noticeable symptoms.
What You Can Do About Indoor Air Pollution
The effects of polluted indoor air can be scary, but you can improve your indoor air quality in several ways. Here’s a few helpful tips:
- Look for any visible mold or mildew. Do a “sniff test” around your home, particularly in basements, cellars, and other areas where the environment may be moist. If you suspect mold or mildew, take care of it immediately.
- Get rid of standing water anywhere in your home. Check your home’s humidity levels, and if they are over 50%, you’ll want to get the source of that moisture under control.
- Test your home for radon. This is a dangerous radioactive gas that many homeowners don’t even realize is a threat, although its presence can cause serious health effects. Outdoor air generally has very low levels of radon, but this substance can build up indoors at unsafe levels.
- Stop smoking. Smoking is terrible for your health, but it’s also pretty bad for your indoor air quality. Nix the habit and improve the quality of your home’s air as well as your own health.
- Make sure all fuel burning appliance such as gas stoves or fireplaces are well vented to the outdoors.