Approximately 90% of our time is spent indoors, with a large portion of that time spent inside our homes. House enclosures can trap air pollutants, such as radon, resulting in a breeding ground for respiratory problems and other health issues. Managing the air you breathe inside your home will help prevent illness and disease. Stay alert for the following common indoor air pollutants.
Ewww, we know! These unattractive pests have been linked to indoor air problems – especially asthma and allergic reactions. Fragments of their body parts and fecal matter can shed throughout your home surfaces where it can spread bacteria. (More ewww!). Similar to dust mites, cockroach allergens do not remain airborne for long. Their allergens settle quickly on surfaces such as clothing, bedding, and upholstered furniture where they can be easily inhaled.
According to the American Lung Association, “Cockroaches don't need to be present for there to be cockroach allergen in your home. One in five homes with no history of cockroach infestation has a significant level of cockroach allergen in dust and fabrics.”
To help minimize a cockroach indoor air issue, the American Lung Association recommends:
- Washing pillows and bedding hot water weekly
- Keeping food crumbs (even pet food) off the floor
- Removing trash from your home regularly
- Avoiding unclean dishes being left in the sink
- Vacuuming carpet regularly or remove it if necessary
Additionally, basic home tidiness and lack of clutter can improve your chances of not having a cockroach issue.
Radon is classified as an indoor air pollutant by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the EPA. Radon is an odorless and colorless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and Canada, only behind smoking. It is responsible for approximately 24,000 deaths per year in the US and Canada.
Radon is formed when the uranium in the soil beneath your home decays into radioactive atoms and seeps into your home through the cracks in your foundation, crawl spaces, and basements. The only way to know if your home has radon is to test and then mitigate it if your radon levels are above the actionable limit.
Radonova has easy to use home radon tests:
- QuickScreen is a 2-to-4-day charcoal radon screener that is good for getting a quick snapshot of radon levels, but it does not give the full picture.
- The 10 to 90 day Rapidos alpha track detector provides detailed and accurate results in a relatively quick period.
- The Radtrak³ is the most popular alpha track radon detector in the world. It is deployed for up to 365 days and the most accurate option.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Organic chemicals are used in many household products such as cleaners, disinfectants, paints, varnishes, aerosol sprays, pesticides, and more. When used these products release organic compounds. Therefore, it is critical that these household products are used and stored only as directed on their product labels. VOCs are the gases that are emitted from these solids or liquids. Exposure can cause:
- Allergic reactions
- Nose, eye, and throat irritation
- Dizziness and loss of coordination
- Damage to liver or kidneys
To reduce the health effects from VOCs, keep your home well ventilated.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that can be fatal. Without knowledge of it being in the home, people can die before realizing they are being exposed to it. Carbon monoxide can be released from gas sources such as:
- Gas stoves
- Cigarette smoke
- Gas water heater
- Car exhaust from an attached garage
- Unvented gas or kerosene
Help prevent carbon monoxide by installing exhaust fans vented to the outdoors over gas stoves, making sure the fireplace flue remains open during use, never leaving your car idling inside your garage, and having all heating and gas appliances serviced by certified professionals on a regular basis.
Moisture in homes creates an atmosphere for mold and mildew to grow. Humid environments, leaky indoor plumbing or appliances (especially a refrigerator or washing machine), damp carpet, and roof leaks are just a few moisture sources. Molds are microscopic fungi that are a natural part of the environment. They multiply by releasing spores that humans can then inhale. These spores will continue to multiply on damp or wet surfaces.
Mold can trigger asthma and allergic symptoms, sinus congestion, and even cause Legionnaire’s disease. Dehumidifiers and keeping home surfaces dry will help minimize mold growth in your home.
The above are just a few indoor air pollutants to try and minimize in your home. Radon and cockroaches (and VOCs, mold, and carbon monoxide) are threats to the clean air we all want to breathe in our homes. Contact your doctor if you are having symptoms of indoor air pollutant exposure and stay informed about the air you, your family, and your pets are breathing in your home.
Radonova is the laboratory of choice for numerous government radon surveys, as well as other public, and private sector large-scale measurement contracts around the world. A truly global laboratory, Radonova is active in over 50 countries and has performed millions of measurements.