indoor air with pollutants

Does Your Home Have These 6 Indoor Air Pollutants in Washington D.C.?

December 22, 2022

Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) causes frequent HVAC problems, illnesses and high utility bills in your home in Washington, D.C. Understanding the significant pollutants is a step forward in creating lasting solutions. This post explores six main contributors to indoor air pollutants and how to improve your indoor air quality.

1. Gases

Malfunctioning combustion appliances and equipment can expose you to harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Environmental factors and home products also lead to exposure to hazardous emissions such as radon.

Carbon monoxide (CO2) is a dangerous colorless, tasteless and unscented gas. Exposure to CO2 leads to nausea, blurred vision, headaches or death at elevated levels. Poor fuel combustion from your heating equipment or cracks in the ductwork causes the release of CO2.

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is another colorless and tasteless toxic gas characterized by a sharp odor. Extended exposure to NO2 leads to respiratory infections, lung diseases and damage. Poor ventilation, industrial, motor vehicle and unfueled gas-heater emissions are causes of NO2 in your home.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic compounds with high vapor pressure at room temperature. Consistent breathing of VOCs causes dizziness, irritations, headaches or chronic illnesses such as cancer and liver damage. Building materials and home and personal care products are your home’s primary sources of VOCs.

Radon (Rn) is another tasteless, colorless and odorless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the ground. Prolonged exposure to Rn leads to lung tissue damage or lung cancer. Rn can penetrate your home through cracks in the foundation.

2. Cigarettes

By this time, you understand the harmful effects of smoking. Cigarettes expose smokers and passive smokers to over 7000 substances, including benzene, lead and nicotine. The results are particularly harmful to infants and people suffering from allergic reactions.

Short-term exposure leads to irritations in the nose, eyes and throat. However, prolonged exposure can cause consistent coughs and respiratory issues such as severe bronchitis or lung cancer. On the other hand, second-hand smoke triggers allergic reactions and asthmatic attacks.

3. Particulates

Particulate matter is a mixture of tiny inhalable liquid and solid fragments suspended in the air. Generally, when these substances are smaller than 10 micrometers, they can penetrate the lungs and then the bloodstream. Consequently, you may suffer from coronary illnesses, lung diseases or kidney failure.

There are different sources of particulates in a home. For instance, fabrics, pets and construction are common causes of particles indoors. Poor insulation and the use of fans indoors increase the particles in the air.

4. Dust Mites

As you may have guessed, dust mites obtain their name from household dust. They are bugs that feed on dead skin flakes and are too tiny to see. Mats, furniture upholstery and bedding are the typical habitats of dust mites.

When dust mites permeate the indoor air, they cause allergic reactions in an inhabitant of your home. Symptoms include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Running nose or congestion
  • Skin itchiness
  • Wheezing, sneezing or coughing

5. Lead

Lead was prevalent in most home construction materials from plumbing, painting and roofing many years ago. However, increased sensitization of its effects has seen the ban of the material from construction.

Paint that was manufactured before 1978 may contain lead. Older homes often have flaking paint chips around windowsills and damaged walls. Young children, who may touch these areas and then touch their mouths, are prime targets for lead paint poisoning.

Likewise, home renovations in older properties may result in airborne lead and dust. Ingestion of lead causes damage to the nervous system, kidneys and brain. In some instances, it is the genesis of learning difficulties among children.

6. Biological Contaminants

Molds, viruses and bacteria are biological pathogens that thrive in dirt and excessive indoor moisture. When present, you may begin exhibiting symptoms of shortness of breath, irritations and headaches. The best way to avoid these pathogens is by maintaining cleanliness and reducing humidity.

How to Improve Your Indoor Air

Cleanliness will maintain your IAQ at its optimum best. However, you must avoid harsh chemicals and use natural cleaners, when cleaning your home. Also, ensure your home has proper insulation and ventilation.

Always remember to schedule routine maintenance checks. During the session, our technicians will replace dirty filters and possibly recommend types that can effectively capture a large percentage of indoor pollutants. Duct cleaning can also improve your IAQ.

Maintaining good IAQ will prevent unexpected bills and health issues. Contact Vernon The Heating & Cooling Specialist today to learn more about how we can help you improve your IAQ.

Image provided by iStock

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