The cold weather is quickly creeping in. For some seasonal-borne symptoms, the passing of autumn may signify the end to allergies and the start to breathing easy once again. But if your living spaces – office, school, or home – are cluttered and the air is stagnant this may actually put you at an even higher risk for illness. Spaces that have little air flow or grime and soot easily trap indoor air pollutants that can make you sick. Without ventilation you breath the same dirty air over and over and over again. Although it may seem as easy as opening the window, depending on your living arrangements this might not be such a quick fix. Homes that are situated in heavy-traffic areas or along an industrial/manufacturing belt have little clean air to offer once a window is opened. And if the temperature is too cold outside to compromise your household’s heat then how can this be helped? Fsi Oil and Propane has a clue! Continue below to find out how to improve your indoor air quality (IAQ) and reduce the pollutants that are really in your air.
What’s REALLY In Your Air
The most easily controllable factor polluting the quality of your indoor air is the potential presence of tobacco smoke. Even if you are not a direct smoker, secondhand smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals including hundreds that are toxic and near 70 that cause cancer¹.
Combustion pollutants are trace substances such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. They are emitted from appliances that burn LP gas, fuel oil, kerosene, wood, or coal. The types and amounts of pollutants produced depend upon the type of appliance and how well it is installed, maintained, and vented. Another thing to remember is that combustion always produces water vapor. Water vapor is not usually considered a pollutant, but it can act as one. It can result in high humidity and wet surfaces which encourages the growth of biological pollutants² .
Biological pollutants include bacteria, molds, mildew, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, and pollen. And for every biological pollutant comes a source – if not more than one. Bacteria is carried by almost everything – humans, plants, and animals. Viruses are transmitted by people and pets. Pollen comes from plants. Mildew easily derives from contaminated HVAC systems. Warm, damp, and slightly dirty areas are one of the perfect place for mold and mites to breed³.
A particulate pollutant is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. It is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles.The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) categorizes particulate pollutants into two groups: inhalable coarse particles and fine particles. The first category is typically found near roadways and dusty industries, and is larger than 2.5 micrometers and smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter. The second is found in smoke and haze, are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller. These particles can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, or they can form when gases emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles react in the air⁴.
Obsolete from modern houses, asbestos is typically found in older homes and buildings. Asbestos is a dangerous substance that contains very harmful fibers. When these fibers are inhaled they can lead to scarring of your lung tissue and an increased risk of cancer⁵.
How You Can Help Reduce Household Pollutants⁶
Clean The Sheets
Dust mites are little, microscopic arthropods, about 0.4mm in length, that thrive on flakes of human skin, and live and lay eggs in our beds, pillows, cushion covers and fabric sofas. To deter these pests try to avoid using blankets that can’t be easily washed and make sure to clean your linen regularly in warm water.
Wash The Floor
Dust, soot, and grime are three substances easily swept under the rug (literally!). These contaminants are often caked on crevices between the floor and walls, found on curtains, and settled on the furniture. Once loosened or shaken off, this debris is easily airborne and breathed in. Avoid using thick carpets and curtains where pollutants can easily build up. Sweep, vacuum, or mop the floor regularly to keep the ground clean and free from contaminants.
Bathe The Pets
Animals are a common source for many household pollutants. Washing your pet regularly helps minimize the presence of saliva, fur, dead skin, urine or sebum that can cause symptoms like coughing, sneezing or red and itchy eyes.
Control Rats and Roaches
Dead or alive, rats and roaches cause great trouble for families and their homes. Saliva, faeces, urine, and decomposing bodies all become part of the house dust. Clean the house clean by washing your dishes and appliances regularly, discarding empty food containers, and properly storing leftovers to help avoid these unwanted guests.
Get Rid Of The Clutter
The more “stuff” you have the greater the chance contaminants building up. Stuffed toys, fake flowers, bookcases, frames on the walls – all these items are examples of places dust can easily accumulate.
Bathrooms, basements, and kitchen counters are three prime examples of the perfect breeding ground for mold. Proper ventilation when showering and cooking are excellent ways to help reduce the chance of mold taking over. Use bleach and to scrub any grime from appliances, faucets, and fixtures making sure to thoroughly rinse and dry the area. If something is leaking, get it fixed immediately.
Room sprays, deodorizers, and air neutralizers all contain chemicals that might cause allergic reactions. Fragrances from paints, room fresheners, scented candles, cosmetics and toiletries like creams and shampoos are included too.
Eliminating tobacco smoke from your lungs as well as the general vicinity is one of the most proactive ways to improve the quality of your indoor air.
¹ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Second Hand Smoke (SHS) Facts”
² EPA. “What Are Combustion Products?”
³ EPA. “What Are Biological Pollutants, How Do They Affect Indoor Air?”
⁴ EPA. “Particulate Matter (PM)”
⁵ Four Seasons. “What’s Polluting Your Indoor Air?”
⁶ Livemint. “Allergen-proof Your Home.”