Why Having Good Indoor Air Quality in Your Home Is Important

Why Having Good Indoor Air Quality in Your Home Is Important

When you think about air pollution, you probably think about belching smokestacks, roaring truck engines, smog, and other outdoor air pollutants. But while the air inside your home may look clear, it’s full of indoor pollutants that can be serious problems thanks to how much time we spend inside every day. Without good ventilation or a good air filter, bad indoor air quality can cause a lot of problems.


Image via Flickr by Gilles San Martin

Anyone with a cat or dog allergy knows you only have to spend time in the same home as one to experience watering eyes and a runny nose. Animal hair and dander quickly gets everywhere, and that’s true even if you clean, dust, and vacuum regularly.

Cats and dogs aren’t the only causes of household allergies, either. Dust mites are microscopic arachnids that survive by eating the dead skin cells that flake off our bodies, and people can develop a dust mite allergy over time. Some varieties of mold can also trigger allergic reactions.

Mold and mite allergies can be hard to detect because they’re very similar to cold symptoms, but there’s one straightforward test you can use: if you feel miserable and under the weather at home, go spend a few hours somewhere else. If your symptoms clear up but then start to return when you go back home, you have a household allergy. You can also buy a mold testing kit and confirm it yourself.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas because it will replace oxygen in our blood, and when that happens we lose energy, fall asleep, and eventually suffocate. In the home, carbon monoxide can build up if the heater has bad or blocked ventilation. Other sources of carbon monoxide include gas stove burners, fireplaces, cars inside garages, and laundry dryers. Carbon monoxide is almost never a problem, but because it has no smell and it won’t wake you if it starts building up, it’s a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector near your bedroom.

Lung Cancer

Image via Flickr by Eneko Lakasta

Radon is a radioactive gas that can seep into homes through cracks in the foundation. How likely this is depends on where you live, but the EPA estimates that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer behind tobacco smoke. You can keep radon out of your home by installing a simple pipe system, but this is one aspect of indoor air quality you absolutely shouldn’t ignore.

Radon isn’t the only carcinogen in the air, either. There’s the benzene created by tobacco smoke and car fumes, the formaldehyde released by certain industrial resins, and the trichloroethylene used in industrial chemicals. Fortunately, it turns out houseplants are a natural way to remove these pollutants and more from the air.

There are fewer sources of pollution and bad air quality indoors, but without good ventilation and filtration, these pollutants can build up and cause problems that range from irritating to life-threatening. And since people spend so much of their time at home (sleeping in their beds, if nothing else), it’s absolutely important to maintain good indoor air quality at home.

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