9 Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

Did you know the air inside your home can be more polluted than the air outside? It's hard to believe, but true as many of the items and practices used inside the home can contaminate the air. Poor air quality in your home can lead to an assortment of health-related issues, especially for those folks suffering from asthma, allergies, and other respiratory illnesses. Here's nine sources of indoor pollution that you may be surprised to find in your own home.

1. Dust

Household dust is a common contaminate found in most homes. Once airborne, the dust can cause respiratory issues such as coughing, sneezing, and watery, itchy eyes. This could pose a major concern for people who suffer from allergies, asthma, and other serious respiratory illnesses.

2. Mold Spores

Airborne mold spores pose a serious health concern in any environment, especially when present in the close confines of your home. Quick action such as cleanup and prevention are essential to reducing the risks associated with mold exposure. Here are some basic steps to take if you discover mold in your home.

  • Remove the mold and all contaminated items ASAP. Don’t forget to wear protective gear to minimize the chance of exposure.
  • Since mold requires moisture to thrive, chances are you if you find it, you also have a moisture problem. Common problems related to mold growth are leaky plumbing, a leaking roof, and/or outer walls that are not sealed properly, allowing moisture to enter your home.
  • Contact a mold removal and remediation specialist to identify the cause, remove, and prevent future mold growth.

3. Air Fresheners

Household air fresheners have recently come under fire as indoor air pollutants. The devices, while designed to enhance air fragrance, are actually emitting toxic chemicals into your environment.

4. Paint

Someone painting a wall in a geometric pattern.

Traditionally, oil-based paints were the norm when it came to home improvement projects. The products were known for emitting strong petroleum fumes. With the advent of water-based latex paint, the strong fumes were diminished, but still present. Paint fumes can have an ill effect on many folks, especially those suffering from respiratory illness. You should only paint in well-ventilated areas and wear protective gear when applying the products. For folks more susceptible to paint fumes, you can purchase a low-VOC product at most home improvement centers and paint stores.

5. Adhesives

Glue and other adhesives, especially those used in construction or home improvement projects, can be lethal if not used with adequate ventilation. Common types used around the home are Liquid Nails, flooring adhesive, and contact cement. When using these types of products, always be sure to crack a window and utilize a fan for exhaust.

6. Candles

While candles provide a beautiful aesthetic to any setting, they can also pollute the air inside of your home with harmful gases and even sedimentary elements. In addition, many chemicals are used in the manufacturing of household candles including those to provide fragrance or add color to the candle wax. As a candle burns, it releases these chemicals and other carbon particles into the atmosphere in your home.

7. Stain and Varnish

Similar to paint, stain and varnishing products emit toxic fumes and should only be used in well-ventilated areas. In addition to their strong fumes, they are also extremely flammable and should always be used according to manufacturer’s instructions.

8. Household Cleaners

A common source of indoor air pollution is linked to household cleaners. Laundry soap, dyer sheets, floor cleaner, degreasers, and bleach all emit unhealthy fumes into your environment. To reduce contamination, purchase environmentally safe products, follow manufacturer’s warnings, and never mix household cleaners.

9. Household Furnishings

Fire retardants used in the manufacture of household furnishings can have an adverse effect on your home’s air quality and cause severe health problems. The chemicals are found in a wide range of household products including furniture upholstery and foam padding, carpet padding, and even baby crib mattresses, just to name a few. The problem develops when these chemicals migrate out of said items and contaminate common household dust. Dust is typical in any household and can gather on furniture, floor, and even become airborne when disturbed. There are several things you can do to minimize exposure to these chemicals.

  • Vacuum floors and carpeting using a vacuum equipped with a high-quality HEPA filter to minimize dust distribution.
  • Wipe down furniture regularly to eliminate dust.
  • Purchase household items void of fire retardant chemicals.
  • Replace damaged upholstery on sofas and chairs as exposed foam padding allows the fire retardant to enter the atmosphere more quickly.
  • Mop floors regularly to remove contaminated dust particles.