These days, you can’t look over a big city without needing to squint to see the buildings through a cloud of smog that hangs around them. Outdoor air pollution is a hot-button issue, and for good reason. After all, what we do to the air affects everything from our own health to the health of our environment. That being said, homeowners on Chicago’s North Shore often forget that indoor air pollution can be just as important as outdoor air pollution, since we tend to breathe the air inside our home more often than the air outside.
Just as you can limit your contribution to outdoor air pollution, you can limit air pollution in your home by cutting it off at its sources. Here are four of those pesky sources of indoor air pollution.
Mold and Mildew
Humidity issues can always reduce your indoor air quality. Too much humidity can lead to mold and mildew growth, while too little can allow certain viruses to thrive. During the late spring and summer, Chicago’s humidity rises and can become a source of indoor air pollution. Mold is especially likely to stake a claim in the dark, wet places of your home, such as your bathroom or areas of your kitchen. If they aren’t caught quickly enough, those spores can then spread throughout your home and cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as breathing problems and even disease.
While you can certainly scrub away mold, the source of the problem lies in the humidity of your home. You can minimize moisture by installing a whole-home dehumidifier that maintains proper humidity with the help of your HVAC system. Maintaining good ventilation (especially in the bathroom) will also help reduce moisture in the air.
We all shiver at just the name of this gas, but surely it couldn’t be in our homes, could it? Unfortunately, without proper care, carbon monoxide can quickly spread throughout your home. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of your HVAC system, particularly the furnace. Normally, the system is built to vent the carbon monoxide to the outside so that it never reaches a poisonous level in your home.
To keep carbon monoxide from becoming an issue, keep up on your schedule of regular HVAC maintenance. This maintenance will ensure that your system is properly venting carbon monoxide.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
“Volatile Organic Compounds” is an umbrella term that refers to certain gases that can stem from many different sources in your home, including paint, air fresheners, carpet cleaners, some household chemical cleaners, pesticides, and more. These gases, often petroleum-based, are rarely listed on the label of your household products. After all, any ingredient with the word “volatile” is likely to be a bit of a turn-off. Instead, they are often listed as “Fragrances,” or something else that hides the true, dangerous nature of these chemicals, which can cause headaches, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and breathing problems.
Some of these compounds, unfortunately, are unavoidable. Whenever using chemical cleaners, paints, or pesticides, make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated. When you’re not using them, store the chemicals outside, in another well-ventilated area. If you want to avoid using chemical cleaners altogether, you can always rely on more organic cleaning methods, such as good ol’ soap and water.
You’re probably all too familiar with this annoying source of indoor air pollution. Mold and mildew could be considered allergens, but this source also includes pollen, dust, and pet dander. These tiny particles can cause everything from a runny nose to violent allergic reactions. To start attacking this source, identify what allergens you may be especially susceptible to by visiting a doctor.
Your HVAC system already comes with a filter intended to catch many of the particles that ride on your home’s airflow, but it doesn’t catch everything. A whole-home air purifier, which more effectively catches particles, may be worth considering if allergies are especially bothersome for you.
You may not be able to fix all the world’s pollution problems, but you can certainly begin to control the air pollution within your home. For professional help with increasing your indoor air quality, call Roberts Heating and Air Conditioning at 847-562-5292.
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