open window from inside room

Recent research has found that the air indoors is more polluted than outdoor air, even in the largest and most industrialized cities. Indoor air pollution poses a serious health risk to families and young children. However, families aren’t left with the unenviable choice of abandoning their homes because it is possible to improve indoor air pollution.

Types of Indoor Air Pollution

The types of indoor air pollutants depend on the environment in the home. Indoor air pollutants can be biological (pet dander and dust mites), chemical (carbon monoxide), and toxic material (asbestos).

Biological Pollutants

Biological pollutants cover a wide range of substances, including pollen, animal dander, pest infestations, and mold. The dangers from these pollutants run the gamut from allergic irritation to serious health hazards. Further, asthma is exacerbated by many biological pollutants. The body parts, droppings, and saliva from cockroaches is also a pollutant that can trigger an allergic and asthmatic response.

Chemical Pollutants

Chemical pollutants include:

  1. Carbon Monoxide: an odorless and colorless gas that causes sudden illness and death, Carbon monoxide is created from gas-powered equipment, such as grills and ovens.
  2. Ozone: causes breathing problems. It is created when polluted air is exposed to sunlight. The major source of ozone in homes is usually created outdoors. Homeowners should not purchase consumer products that purport to use ozone to clean indoor air pollutants – these products have been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration, which determined that they don’t work.
  3. Tobacco Smoke: causes a myriad of health problems, including lung cancer, eye and throat irritation, and breathing problems. Children are more affected by tobacco smoke than adults.
  4. Volatile Organic Compounds: are organic chemicals used in household products such as cleaning solutions and paint. These products should only be used in rooms with good ventilation and should be stored in sealed containers.

Toxic Material Pollutants

Asbestos was a major industrial chemical used in a variety of applications as insulation and fire retardant. For decades, asbestos was used in every conceivable building, from classrooms to bathrooms. Asbestos, when it is inert, is perfectly safe. However, if it is disturbed, such as by fire or during a remodel, it becomes a known carcinogen.

Lead is another former wonder-kind substance that was used in many applications. Lead is most common in paint and pipes in the home. Lead causes neurological problems and is generally banned in new home construction.