The major indoor air pollutants that lower the quality of the air are about the same in everyone’s home. The extent of their effect in the air quality depends largely on the way we choose to address issues within the home. Some of the very things we do to make our living space better are often the most harmful.
From the time most people are very young, they are taught the value of cleanliness. Mothers clean counters, floors, furniture, bathrooms, and bedrooms on a regular basis to kill “germs” and make the house a better place to live. The clean home has always been something homemakers aspire to.
At what price a home is kept clean is a cause for concern more today than ever before because we are learning that many of the things we have been doing to keep families healthy are doing just the opposite.
Pollutants We Can and Can’t Change
Commercial cleaning products are one of the largest contributors to poor air quality. Off gases from chemicals provide a large number of VOCs in the home. Many of these are from cleaning solvents, but they also are in nail polish, aerosol sprays, paints, and almost every manmade product in our daily lives.
Plastics constitute another problem area because of their varied compositions. Shower curtains and plastic children’s toys put off VOCs, too. There has long been a concern that plastic plates and other containers were not safe for use in microwaves because the high heat can cause a chemical reaction and impart impurities into the food and the air.
Gases are another problem inside all kinds of buildings. Radon has been known to be a threat for many years, and carbon monoxide is prevalent in closed areas where people use up the oxygen in the air.
A carbon monoxide detector will cost around $300, and if you decide to check indoor air quality to include VOCs, the price escalates above $2,000. It is often less expensive just to have a technician test your air quality.
Cars, furniture, and other items brand new from the manufacturer also contribute to the release of VOCs into the air we breathe. Biological items are not free of their dangers either. Dust and mold occur naturally, just as pet dander does, and they certainly contribute negatively to the air quality within the home.
Physical items are represented by anything that has mass, and they also can give off enough gas to cause quality problems in the home’s atmosphere. Most notably among them are lead and mercury.
As you can see, air is affected by many different sources both manmade and natural. Many of them are items we are exposed to just about every day. Biological items that exist naturally, natural and manmade gases that we don’t even realize are there, chemicals that are tainted but have a pleasing smell, and the physical objects that also give off emissions all make the home a dangerous place to be if nothing is done to remove these threats.
Reducing our exposure as much as possible is one positive move by using fewer products that emit VOCs along with using an air purifier to help reduce the allergens and contaminants that are already there.