Your home should be a place where you are safe. Unfortunately, the place where you spend so much of your time can create health problems without your knowledge. Indoor air pollutants can cause many issues that you may blame on other ailments or allergies or be damaging your health silently, only to create issues as you age.
Indoor air pollution can cause chronic pulmonary disease, lung cancer, and many other, less serious conditions. Regular vacuuming and dusting, replacing curtains with blinds, and washing sheets and blankets weekly in hot water are beneficial, but many air quality concerns require professional remediation.
If you are in the San Antonio area, get in touch with us at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating. We provide a range of air purification services that can make your house more comfortable.
Why Indoor Air Quality Matters
In the U.S., both adults and children spend most of their time indoors. While outdoor air quality is a concern, indoor air pollutants are more worrisome for a few reasons.
Indoors, air pollutants become more concentrated while outdoor air pollutants have a vast area where they can disperse. Some of the modern energy-saving improvements that help lower your electric bill and keep your home at a comfortable temperature also decrease air exchange, allowing pollutants to build up inside.
Another reason to be concerned about the quality of indoor air is the fact that individuals who are most susceptible to the damages of poor-quality air, such as the elderly or those with chronic health conditions, generally spend the most time indoors.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve your home’s air quality. Working with a professional, such as a technician from Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating, allows you to determine the quality of your home’s air and develop a plan to reduce pollutants.
Radon is naturally released from the soil. It is a radioactive gas that can enter the home through small cracks and accumulate over time. As radon builds up in the lungs, the radioactive gas increases the risk of lung cancer.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, radon is the leading cause of environmental cancers. You can test the radon levels in your home, and it is a good idea to do so as part of any renovation project.
Radon levels accumulate on the lower levels of your home, so radon testing is particularly important if you plan to use your home’s basement as a bedroom or other living space where your family will spend a good deal of time.
Because carbon monoxide is both colorless and odorless, exposure is extremely dangerous. Unintentional carbon monoxide exposure leads to around 400 deaths a year in the U.S.
Carbon monoxide develops naturally when fuel is burned. Homes with fuel-burning appliances should also have working CO detectors. Some common sources of carbon monoxide in the home include water heaters, furnaces, and gas or wood stoves.
Carbon monoxide exposure can be deadly. If your home has fuel-burning appliances, you should know the symptoms of CO exposure. They include headaches, breathlessness, irritability, confusion, and loss of coordination.
Feeling any of these symptoms and then feeling better when you are out of the house, everyone in the home feeling bad at the same time, or noticing similar symptoms in indoor pets are all signs that should be taken seriously. Known as the silent killer, CO poisoning is easy to mistake for the flu until the affected individual loses consciousness.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds, more commonly knowns as VOCs, are chemicals that vaporize in the air. This allows them to remain aloft where they are easily inhaled. VOCs are common in many items that are commonly used in homes.
Some of these items, such as paint and varnish, are things that you would know to use caution when using. However, VOCs are also found in some cosmetics as well as cleaning and degreasing products.
VOC exposure can have a number of unpleasant effects on the body. Irritation to the throat, eyes, and nose is common. More serious complications include loss of coordination, headaches, nausea, and even liver and kidney damage can occur from this exposure.
You may find it hard to believe that dampness can be dangerous to your health, but it is true. A home with excess moisture can cause short- and long-term damage to your health as well as damage to your home.
The most obvious problems created by excess moisture in the home are mold and mildew. A common allergen, mold causes a range of health issues. Touching the moldy area isn’t necessary; the spores easily become airborne, allowing residents of the home to unknowingly inhale the polluted air.
Mold allergies are easy to confuse with the symptoms of hay fever. Red eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing are all common reactions. Some people may also experience a skin rash, known as dermatitis, from mold exposure.
For individuals with asthma, mold is a common trigger. Even people who are not allergic to mold can experience throat, eye, and skin irritation from exposure.
While these symptoms are easy to diagnose, mold exposure can also cause irritation to the lungs. This irritation may not be recognized immediately but can cause long-term health problems. Certain types of mold can cause coughing, including coughing up blood, as well as shortness of breath. Long-term mold exposure can lead to lung infections. Even if your body is successful at fighting off the infection, resulting scarring can leave lasting effects.
Another concern is that homes with excess moisture create the ideal environment for dust mites, which are a major trigger for individuals with asthma. They are also a common allergen. Exposure can lead to mild symptoms, such as runny nose and sneezing, as well as more serious concerns such as chronic coughing, painful facial pressure, and asthma attacks. There are several ways to make your home less hospitable to dust mites. Some things you can do include:
- Reduce moisture, keeping humidity to below 50%
- Replace carpets with hard floors
- Cover mattresses and pillowcases with allergen protectors
- Use hot water to wash bedding and stuffed animals
- Add an air purifier to your HVAC system
How to Reduce Indoor Air Pollutants
A professional HVAC technician, such as those you will find at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating, will work with you to develop a plan for your home. Air purifiers that work with your HVAC system to clean the air throughout your home are an effective way of reducing damaging pollutants. Adding a dehumidifier will drop the moisture level in your home to a comfortable level that discourages mold growth and dust mites.
If dry air is the problem, exacerbating eye, throat, and lung irritation, you may benefit from a professionally installed humidifier. Finally, the use of UV lights and air duct cleaning can help remove the accumulation of dust, dirt, and pollutants that may cause irritation and discomfort.
In addition to improving your home’s indoor air quality, we install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems. If you are in San Antonio or the surrounding areas, you can call or request service online. We are happy to discuss various options that can provide relief for you and your family. Get in touch with us at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating today.