Poor Indoor Air Can Make You Ill

Poor indoor air quality can be a problem in the summer months. Often we are advised to keep the elderly and young inside and comfortably air-conditioned when the mercury inches toward dangerous territory. However, this advice may be even more dangerous. It is estimated that indoor air quality, regardless of the season, is at least five times more polluted than the air outside, and by all reports this is a very conservative estimate. The reason is because our homes are enclosed environments which are veritable Petri dishes for sources of indoor air pollution.

Poor indoor air contaminants can cause allergies, skin irritations and aggravate asthma and COPD. They can produce flu-like symptoms, cause eye redness and worsen respiratory problems. In extreme cases, indoor air pollution has been linked to kidney damage and cancer.


Indoor air pollution comes from three basic sources. Particulates can be seen with the naked eye. These are things like animal dander, cigarette smoke, which contains over 40 known carcinogens, dust, mold, of which there are over 270 species, and pollen. Volatile organic compounds are gases that escape from chemicals that are in the home. These can be simple cleaning solutions, health and beauty products, air fresheners, hairspray and fragrance accelerants.

But there is a more sinister sub-group that includes formaldehyde which is emitted from pressed wood, used to make furniture, and the chemical cocktail that seeps out from your dry cleaning. Bio-Burden is the amount of biological material, which can be dead or alive, that is in your home. This is the type of thing that is revealed only after a masked team in hazmat suits has swabbed your surfaces and carried their findings off to a lab. Most of us will never have to deal with these extremes, but if you notice more sneezing and sniffling in your home, especially among the younger and older set, it’s probably time to call in the professionals. A heating contractor should be consulted every year to inspect heating systems and do a thorough cleaning of all air ducts.


It has been reported that two out of three indoor air quality problems can be traced back to the HVAC system. And for the do-it-yourselfers out there, be advised that fiberglass furnace filters have been estimated to have a 7% efficiency rating, even when replaced monthly.

Air conditioning units need to be thoroughly cleaned as well. Air conditioners are notoriously fond of mold and in most cases the only way to ensure all of it gets eradicated is to call in an expert. With over 270 species of mold, it’s good to be on the lookout for any potential sources. Keep an eye on areas of your home that tend to get damp and call a reliable plumber at the first sign of anything leaking or dripping.

In the old days, houses were far less efficient. Windows were drafty and doors let in blizzards and rain. Back in the day, the main culprits of indoor air pollution were dust, mold, smoke from the wood stove and animal dirt. Our air-tight homes of today are vastly more efficient, but we have created an environment for bacteria to run rampant. It is estimated that people today spend 60-90% of their time indoors.

Ask a reliable electrical contractor specializing in heating and air conditioning about source removal. This is the most effective way to remove contaminants from the entire HVAC system. Your system will run more efficiently which will ultimately result in improved health for your family and lower heating and air conditioning bills.

Tags: air quality, how to clean

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