10 Threats to Indoor Air Quality

Poor indoor air quality can contribute to or cause the development of lung cancer, infections and chronic lung diseases, like asthma. Those with lung disease already are at a greater risk. It’s important you know the pollutants that can make indoor air unhealthy. Here are 10 threats to indoor air quality.

  1. Asbestos

Asbestos is a group of fibrous minerals that naturally occur. It was once widely used in consumer products and building supplies. Research shows asbestos could cause cancer and major breathing problems. Brittle and old asbestos products can release tiny fibers, sometimes microscopic that can get into your lungs when you inhale.

  1. Bacteria and Viruses

These are living organisms that can cause illnesses like influenza and the common cold. They can also make some diseases, such as asthma, worse.

  1. Cleaning Supplies and Household Chemicals

To protect the health of your home, you need to clean. But, cleaning and household products often include harmful chemicals like:

  • Polishes
  • Soaps
  • Grooming supplies

Even “natural” or “green” products could contain certain ingredients that could cause health issues. Some are even corrosive or flammable.

  1. Building and Paint Products

Remodeling or new construction materials can emit dust or fumes that could endanger your health. When removed or disturbed, older building materials can release indoor air toxins and pollutants. Building materials like furniture, plywood and pressed-wood products can also contain chemicals that give off odors and gases as the materials age.

Other things that can emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds), benzene, formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals as they age are:

  • Adhesives
  • Paints
  • Cleaning and carpeting products
  • Polishes
  • Solvents

Older building products such as insulation, drywall or tiles might contain asbestos.

  1. Carbon Monoxide

This is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that’s very dangerous. Carbon monoxide is produced with the burning of fuels like natural gas, gasoline, oil, charcoal or wood or kerosene. Breathing carbon monoxide decreases your blood’s ability to carry oxygen. It can get to dangerous levels both outdoors and indoors.

  1. Radon

Radon is a type of naturally occurring gas that can impact both your health and indoor air quality. You can’t smell or see it and it can build up inside your home and reach to dangerous levels. Being exposed to high radon levels can cause lung cancer.

  1. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a flammable gas and is colorless. It has a distinct odor you can detect at extremely low concentrations. It’s a VOC that causes harmful health effects like cancer.

  1. Lead

Lead is a type of toxic metal once used regularly in the manufacturing of gasoline and common household products. There’s no safe level of lead exposure. Lead is a naturally occurring element that doesn’t go away over time, unlike many pollutants.

  1. Mold and Dampness

There’s mold everywhere. But, if there isn’t enough moisture, mold can’t grow. If too much moisture is present, mold grows. Dampness can show up in noticeable moisture like leaks or as high humidity. When in homes, it can create an environment for the growth of mold spores. Dampness can be harmful even when there isn’t any mold. Too much moisture promotes things like:

  • Cockroaches
  • Dust mites
  • Viruses and bacteria

All of these can impact health.

  1. Dust Mites

These are microscopic, insect-like pests that create many of the common indoor allergens or substances, triggering asthma and allergic reactions in many people. Dust mites can live in mattresses, bedding, carpets, upholstered furniture or curtains.

You may be able to improve indoor air quality with a whole house fan. A whole house fan increases ventilation in a home making it healthier to breathe in.