Air pollution is a major issue that affects everyone in the world. As a result, governments, businesses, and institutions around the globe have put forth efforts to reduce air pollution and create a healthier environment. While it is important to fight outdoor air pollution, the issue of indoor air is often overlooked. The air inside a home becomes polluted too, and indoor air pollution may pose a bigger threat to your health than outdoor air pollution.
Studies have shown that it is possible for indoor air pollution to be more harmful than outdoor air pollution, especially if a home or apartment has poor or limited ventilation. There are several sources of indoor air pollution including cooking, smoking, paint or varnish residue, VOCs from cleaning products, radon, and mold spores. What makes indoor air pollution so dangerous is that these harmful pollutants are much more highly concentrated in confined indoor spaces as opposed to the vast outdoor air. People also spend more time indoors than outdoors on average, increasing their exposure to these indoor air pollutants. It is very important for homeowners to understand the dangers of indoor air pollution, the various sources of it, and how to improve the indoor air quality of the home.
Risks of Radon
One common source of indoor air pollution that should concern homeowners across the U.S. is radon. Radon is a radioactive gas that is produced naturally when soil breaks down uranium. It can seep into homes through foundational cracks and other openings, and it has no color, taste, or odor, making it very difficult to detect. Radon can quickly build up to dangerous levels in a home and exposure to radon damages lung cells which can lead to lung cancer. About 21,000 people die annually due to complications from radon exposure.
The only way to tell if your home is affected by radon is to have it tested. It is extremely important for homeowners to test for radon because of the serious health complications that can result from extended exposure. Home radon testing kits are very affordable and will give you an idea of the level of radon in your home. If you do not trust a home testing kit, you can also hire a qualified professional for radon testing and mitigation if you do have elevated levels.
Protecting your Home from Radon
You can help prevent radon buildup in your home with the following tips:
- Do not smoke or let others smoke in your home. The presence of smoke can make health complications from radon more likely to occur.
- Promote good air circulation and ventilation in your home by opening vents and windows and running fans.
- Look for and seal any cracks or openings in the foundation of your home.
- Test your home for radon if you think there may be a problem. Radon testing is affordable, and it can save you and your family from serious health complications.
Smoke and Odors from Fires
Smoke, in all of its forms, is one of the leading causes of indoor air pollution. A home may be affected by the smoke from cooking, cigarettes, and of course, house fires. Where there is smoke, there are also harmful contaminants in the air and unpleasant odors. When smoke damage occurs, regardless of whether it is from a house fire or a cooking accident, the focus of the smoke damage restoration is usually on cleaning the damaged materials and removing the odors. However, it is also important for the contaminants in the air to be removed with an air cleaning or purifying process.
Gaseous Air Purifiers
When a disaster occurs that involves smoke and odors, air cleanup must be done to bring the indoor air quality back to normal. One common method that restoration professionals use to do this is oxidation. There are a couple of different oxidation techniques used for air purification that work by converting the dangerous contaminants to a less harmful form through chemical reactions. The contaminants will eventually be decomposed into water and carbon dioxide. The problem with oxidation methods is that they can create potentially harmful chemicals.
The following are common types of oxidation techniques used to improve indoor air quality:
- Ozone: Ozone has been used for years to help eliminate odors and VOCs from homes, but it also has hazardous side effects. Ozone quickly attacks chemical compounds which makes it effective for eliminating odors and airborne contaminants, but it can also cause damage to paint, rubber, and other common building materials. This oxidation process can also produce formaldehyde which is a dangerous chemical, and inhaling ozone can also be harmful. It is very important that this process is done by highly trained professionals.
- Hydroxyl Ions: Hydroxyl oxidation is a mild oxidation process that works the same way as ozone oxidation, but with less intense side effects. Hydroxyl ions do not create as many harmful chemicals as ozone and is less of a risk to your health. It also disappears from the air within a few seconds as opposed to ozone which takes 24 to 48 hours to dissipate, so it will not build up to unsafe levels in your home. Even though hydroxyl ions can produce some of the same hazards as ozone, the harmful chemicals it creates are at much lower concentrations, making hydroxyl oxidation a safe alternative.
Other Indoor Air Pollutants
Smoke and strong odors are extreme examples of indoor air pollution that typically occur as a result of a disaster, and radon is a serious problem that gradually builds over time. There are other factors that threaten your indoor air quality that are much less serious but have a much more immediate impact. These factors include smoking, pet hair or dander, certain cleaning products, and dust buildup. There are simple ways to reduce the effects of indoor air pollution from these factors, such as using VOC free cleaning products and implementing a no smoking rule in the home, but it is a little tougher to keep your home free of dust or pet hair. Even if you clean regularly, these materials will still end up in your HVAC system only to get blown back into the breathing air each time the system turns on.
The most effective way to reduce the impact of these factors on your indoor air is to call a professional like ServiceMaster Professional Services for air duct cleaning services. Our technicians use the right equipment to remove dust, hair, and other airborne debris from the air duct walls and internal parts. This will result in much cleaner breathing air in your home and significantly reduce the risk of allergies and other breathing issues.
Protect your Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air pollution is a problem that can affect any home and lead to health complications such as allergic reactions and more serious respiratory issues. As a homeowner, you should always be aware of the potential for indoor air pollution and take action to help preserve your indoor air quality. Smoking outside, using eco-friendly cleaning products, cleaning dust and hair, and ventilating your home when painting are all effective steps to reduce indoor air pollution. You should also have your home tested for radon and be ready to call our professionals at SVMPS if your property is affected by fire, smoke, odors, or mold to remove dangerous contaminants from the air with our advanced equipment and methods. Keeping your indoor air clean will contribute to a healthier, happier home.
SVMPS provides professional air duct cleaning services as well as air purification and odor removal to help improve the indoor air quality of your home or business in the St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN area. Give us a call at (800) 245-4622 for emergency services.