Home Air Quality
poor air quality

Something in the Air: The Top Signs Your Home Has Poor Air Quality

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Have you noticed you get more headaches at the end of the day? That you have unexplained allergy-like symptoms? Or maybe you even feel like you have a mild fever at work, but feel better once you’re outside or at home?

All those are symptoms of poor air quality. You could be exposed to anything from elevated dust, to deadly, toxic mold.

Want to learn what symptoms to look for in your health and in your environment? Check out the guide below.

What Does Bad Air Quality Mean for Your Health?

When you’re breathing in bad air, pretty much everything in your body suffers. Oxygen is essential for almost every bodily process, and when the air quality is compromised, that oxygen gets tainted by other things.

Like VOCs or volatile organic compounds. That’s what most indoor air pollutants are called, whether they’re mold spores or dust from a nearby construction site.

The amount of damage these compounds can do depends on a few factors. How dense is the air with these chemicals? Aka, how many of them are in the air?

Then you have to consider the time that someone’s spent breathing these chemicals in. It’s different if you walk through a room with bad air and take a few breaths, vs if you work 8 hours a day in that room.

The density of the air pollutants and the time you spend breathing them determine what effect they have on your body.

Short Term Health Effects

When you’re in a room breathing low-quality air, you’ll feel uncomfortable.

For some people that show up as headaches or eye irritation. You could develop allergy-like symptoms, that isn’t due to allergies at all. Trouble breathing and nausea are two more serious side effects, usually accompanied by confusion or dizziness.

Nosebleeds can happen when the air quality is extremely low, so if your nose starts bleeding out of nowhere, please seek clean air.

Sometimes you don’t notice any short term effects of low-quality air. Many people misdiagnose their symptoms as seasonal allergies, or just write them off.

Prolonged low-quality air exposure can lead to long term damage.

Long Term Damage

In the case of long-term exposure to air pollutants, people have developed everything from the black lung (an extreme) to asthma.

Damage to the bodies organs can occur, as can central nervous system damage and cancer.

Want to know if you’re breathing dirty air? Here are a few ways how to tell.

How to Tell if You Have Poor Air Quality

Whether you’re concerned about your office or your home, here’s what you can look for.

1. Worsening of Allergy-Like Symptoms

If you find yourself sneezing and feeling congested when you’re at work/in your home, but feel things getting better when you leave – that could be a sign of poor air quality.

See if your symptoms are made better by opening windows or getting an air purifier.

2. Think About Seasonal Changes

Sometimes the organic compounds in the air aren’t deadly, but they’re still annoying. This happens usually in spring and early summer when plant pollen is flying around.

You can google your town and “pollen forecast” to find out if that’s the issue. It’ll give you a rating, low, medium, or high, which may explain your symptoms.

3. Consider Physical Changes

It’s normal for home repairs or remodels to kick up some dust. But the dust should be well contained in the construction area of your home.

If you have an old home or live in a place where mold is common, it’s possible that the renovations or repairs irritated asbestos or toxic mold in your home.

On the one hand, this is a good thing. You want to find out about the toxin so you can have it removed. But on the other hand, removal is expensive and you may have already developed health issues from living with the toxin (unknowingly) for so long.

You can also suffer from renovations or constructions that your neighbors are doing, especially if you live in an attached home.

If you suspect that’s the issue (ie, the timing works out) ask them what quality tests or inspections they’re doing along with their work.

4. Pay Attention to Air Flow

This mostly goes for work buildings, unless you’ve all of a sudden noticed a change in your home.

If there are spots in your office (or home) where the air is very cold or very hot, that shows there’s some sort of blockage or issue with the ducts. The entire home or office should be at the same temperature, give or take a few degrees.

If you notice extremes, call an HVAC professional to come to check things for you.

If they find that things are flowing strangely because of a blockage or they find things like mold or other toxins, you’ll need to call a mold removal professional.

They can not only diagnose your problem, but help you understand how widespread it is, or if it’s a contained issue. They’ll set up a removal plan for you and encourage you to see a doctor, depending on the severity of the issue.

Can I DIY?

Absolutely not. Trying to remove dangerous toxins like mold or asbestos is not a good idea. When you remove the particles from the surface, microparticles get into the air.

If you don’t have the proper protection, you can inhale those particles and make your symptoms worse.

Calling a professional is not only recommended, but it’s mandatory to protect your and your families health.

If you suspect you have poor air quality, call an expert first. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

air quality testing

5 Reasons Why You Should Do Periodic Air Quality Testing

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There’s endless information about outdoor air pollution, but what about the air in our lounges and kitchens?

Since we spend plenty of time indoors, the quality of the air we breathe while inside has become a significant concern. From spacious houses to cozy apartments, having clean, healthy air inside our rooms can improve our overall health and wellbeing.

But how do you know if you have clean air indoors? Well, in many cases, you need advanced air quality testing technology, such as VOC testing devices and carbon monoxide detectors.

Whether you do it on your own or use a professional air quality testing service, testing the air can help you make the best decisions for your home.

In this piece, we’ll discuss the importance of indoor air quality, how it’s measured, and five reasons to test your indoor air quality.

Why is the Quality of Indoor Air Important?

Indoor air pollutants may cause a wide variety of problems ranging from instant ones like eye and nose irritation to long-term medical conditions like heart disease and cancer.

There are obvious benefits to having clean indoor air. After all, if you aren’t breathing in huge amounts of pet dander or dust, you’re unlikely to suffer from coughing or respiratory problems like COPD and asthma.

But not all air pollutants are as noticeable as dust. Some have no smell and are completely invisible. Some pollutants like asbestos or lead may have been in your house for ages. This makes it even harder to detect and remove them.

Measuring Air Quality

Now that you know why it’s essential to have a clean environment indoors, you can take smart steps to improve the air inside your house. However, you can’t get rid of the contaminants unless you know what they are. This means you must do air quality testing.

When you want to test your indoor air for various pollutants, you’ve got two options. You can test the air yourself or hire a professional.

What Are the Reasons to do Indoor Air Quality Testing?

The quality of the air in your home is vital for your health as well as comfort. Certain air pollutants may have long-term effects on your health.

Here are five main pollutants that every homeowner should know before performing an air quality test in their home.

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Allergies and Asthma
  • Mold
  • Radon
  • VOCs

Carbon Monoxide Gas

Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the biggest issues many of us face at home. From 2010 to 2015, 2, 244 people died due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. You might be inhaling this toxic gas if you’ve got a faulty gas line, blocked fireplace vent, or damaged water heater.

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, so installing carbon monoxide alarms near fuel-burning appliances and bedrooms is the best way to uncover it.

Carbon monoxide is life-threatening because it stops oxygen from getting to the vital organs. Other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, and nausea. At worst, you will die.

That’s why it’s critical to have an expert conduct an air quality test in your home.

VOCs

After a simple paint project or remodel, it’s necessary to conduct a test for VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Volatile organic compounds are released by building materials, aerosol cans, and paint products. They’re mostly found indoors and are a major contributor to indoor air pollution.

If you’ve got frequent throat, nose, or eye irritation in your household, testing the VOC levels in your air can be important in finding a solution.

Although air quality testing for many VOCs may be unreliable because of the lack of indoor air quality standards to interpret results, it may help detect very dangerous VOCs like formaldehyde. This toxin is found in fabrics, wood, combustion appliances, tobacco smoke, etc.

Radon

Radon is an odorless, invisible, and tasteless gas that may be present in your home. According to EPA, it’s the leading contributor to lung cancer in America.

Radon may be found outdoors and indoors, but it is most often found indoors. It occurs when uranium in the soil breaks down naturally, moving through the ground and up into the air. Buildings then trap radon inside, which is why it is a serious threat to homeowners.

When buying a house, you should always have an expert conduct a radon test. If they find above average radon levels, they can help you neutralize the problem.

Allergies and Asthma

If you or your loved ones suffer from asthma or allergies, air quality testing can help you know what to do to ease the symptoms of both conditions.

Indoor air irritants and allergens play a significant role in the intensity of an asthma attack. A residential indoor air quality testing can find out if there’s dust, pet dander, or pollen in the air.

Pet dander, dust, and mold are a significant trigger for people with allergies or asthma. Even if you own no pet, it’s still advisable to test the air and find out what could have been in your home before or if there’s a creature bringing it in.

Mold and Mildew

Apart from chemical pollutants, there are all kinds of biological pollutants to worry about, such as mold, fungus, mildew, and even viruses and bacteria.

These vicious microorganisms thrive in humid, warm air. That means you must be extra careful about reducing the humidity and taking care of any water leaks in basements and bathrooms.

Mold can cause various symptoms such as respiratory conditions (especially for those with breathing problems or asthma), as well as skin and eye irritation.

Unlike other air pollutants, mold can be detected by the eye, although some situations may require an air quality test for mold.

The Bottom Line

We all want to breathe clean, healthy air at home and not the contaminated air outside. An air quality testing will help to uncover the dangerous pollutants in your home.

To fix the quality of air in your home, be sure to talk to the specialists at CleanFirst Restoration. Contact us to set up an appointment.

Indoor-Air-Quality

What are the Health Consequences of Living in a House With Poor Air Quality?

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What are the Health Consequences of Living in a House With Poor Air Quality?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the air quality inside your home is usually two times to five times worse than it always is outside. Activities including painting, floor removal among other things make the air inside your house more polluted. The reason behind this is because of the off-gassing of the volatile organic compounds that are used in manufacturing paint, adhesives as well as other objects in your home.

Exposure to poor indoor air quality can bring about short term eye infections, throat and nose irritations, headaches dizziness as well as fatigue. It can as well exacerbate the effects of asthma especially in children. Exposure to poor air quality can bring about respiratory conditions, cancer including even cancer.

There are numerous consequences that can affect you and your family if you are living in a house with poor air quality. Among those mentioned above, the following are some additional sources that can lead to poor air quality in your home:

  1. Deteriorating or damaged insulation as well as fireproofing is a good source of asbestos indoors. Asbestos are known to cause cancer. After long periods of inhaling these fibers you are at risk of getting cancer and Mesothelioma- a deadly cancer that affects the thin lining between the lungs and other organ.
  2. Bacteria and viruses are living organisms that can bring about a disease called influenza. Without proper ventilation this bacteria and viruses will be packed in your house traveling through the air and constantly infecting you and your family with common cold.
  3. New construction or remodeling products are a source of fumes as well as dust that can endanger health. Older building materials are also a source of pollutants when exposed to any disturbance of any kind. These dust and fumes can cause allergic reactions as well as asthma.
  4. Carbon monoxide gas is a colorless, odorless but very dangerous gas. This gas has numerous sources that are found within your house including burning fuel, gasoline natural gas, wood or charcoal. Proper ventilation will prevent you from inhaling high doses of CO which can cause Anxiety or depression, confusion, vomiting, impaired vision, sleepiness, Nausea, Disorientation and Death.
  5. Cleaning supplies are essential in protecting our health but pose as health hazards especially in a house with poor or no HVAC system. Some of these chemicals are corrosive and flammable. Aerosol sprays, chlorine bleach, rug and upholstery cleaners are some of the sources of irritants which leads to respiratory conditions as well as house fires in the case of the flammable substances.
  6. Second hand smoke is the main health hazard that leads to more than 41,000 deaths every year. It has damaging health effects in children as well as adults. This pollutant causes lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Poor air conditioning and ventilation can accumulate this pollutant in your house thus posing more challenges for your family.
  7. Mold and dampness is common in every indoor space. Moisture accumulation in your home will nurture growth of molds. Spore from the mold are the common indoor pollutants. Exposure to these spores can trigger allergic reactions as well as asthma attacks. You can as well be affected by lower and upper respiratory problems including irritation of eyes, nose, skin, throat and the lungs.

Is indoor air quality testing really necessary?

Posted by | Blog, Home Air Quality, Indoor air quality testing | No Comments

 

 

picture of indoor air polution

Does Indoor Air Quality matter?

We all know by now that the quality of the air we breathe is a major factor on our health and environment.
Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma. In addition, it can cause headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue. People who already have immune compromised conditions are at greater risk.
indoor-air-pollution-danger-levels-chart
The first step of defense against indoor air pollution is finding ways to keep the pollutants out of the air inside of our homes in the first place. This is sometimes referred to as source control.
The lack of adequate ventilation, which results in a buildup of contaminants from sources within the home, affects the indoor air quality in a negative way. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health identified inadequate ventilation as the primary problem in more than half the workplace indoor air investigations it has conducted. Investigations conducted in homes by the Illinois Department of Public Health have found the same to be true. These investigations revealed that proper ventilation is important in maintaining good indoor air quality. Appropriate ventilation with clean fresh air can reduce the levels of indoor air pollutants. Most residential heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems recirculate indoor air to conserve energy. The current trend in the construction of new homes is to reduce air leakage through cracks and other openings in walls, floors, and roofs. The combination of these construction practices and the recirculation of indoor air have led to an increase in indoor air problems. Finally, while air cleaning devices can be useful, they are no substitute for preventing the indoor air from getting dirty in the first place.

 

Health effects of common air pollutants and ways we can control their sources:

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Organic Pollutants

Mold, bacteria, viruses, pollen, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches and other possible insects or animals excrements. These may cause infections, provoke allergic symptoms or trigger asthma attacks. They are a major cause of lost days from work and school. Means of control include washing bedding frequently, keeping pests out, frequent cleaning and sanitization of all surfaces, keeping indoor dust to minimum and controlling moisture that promotes mold growth.

Tobacco Smoke

We all know Smoke is a major indoor air pollutant. It contains some 200 known chemicals, such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, and at least 60 are known to cause cancer. According to the American Lung cancer Association every year it causes an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths and up to 50,000 heart disease deaths. In children, especially infants, it is responsible for pneumonia, lower respiratory tract infections and ear infections. It causes asthma to develop, causes asthma attacks, and makes attacks worse. Source control: No one should smoke.

Combustion Pollutants

Combustion Pollutants come from sources such as fireplaces, furnaces, fuel burning stoves, heaters, and water heaters, using gas, oil, coal, wood, and other fuel source appliances. The most dangerous are both colorless and odorless gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Carbon Monoxide interferes with the delivery of oxygen to the body and can produce fatigue, headache, confusion, nausea, and dizziness. Very high levels can cause death. Nitrogen dioxide irritates the mucous membranes in the eye, nose and throat and can cause shortness of breath and promote infections.  Source control: The best way to control these pollutants is to make sure combustion appliances properly used are installed and maintained by reliable professionals and have monitors/leak detectors installed.

Radon

Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that forms in the soil, most often can enter the home through the cracks in foundation floor, drains, and other sources. Indoor radon exposure is estimated to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in North America responsible for at least 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Steps to control radon include testing your home to ensure no radon is present and following recommendations for further testing and repairs if necessary.
howradonentersahouse

Asbestos

A non-flammable mineral that can release microscopic fibers, that when inhaled into the lungs can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and another cancer called mesothelioma. Many asbestos products are found in homes build before 1986, including roofing, flooring materials, and insulation for ceilings, walls, plumbing and heating equipment. Source control: if your house was built before 1986 get a designated substance report before any renovation or repair. 

Formaldehyde

A chemical, found primarily in adhesives, bonding agents for many materials found inside of our houses and offices, including carpets, upholstery, particle board, and plywood paneling. The release of formaldehyde into the air can cause health problems, such as: headaches, coughing, eye, nose, and throat irritation; skin rashes, and dizziness. Source control: avoid using products that emit formaldehyde.

 

VOC’s or Volatile organic compounds

Thousands of potentially harmful chemicals are emitted by household cleaning agents, personal care products, pesticides, paints, hobby products, and solvents. They can cause dizziness, nausea, allergic reactions, eye, skin, respiratory tract irritation, and cancer. Minimize your use of such sources of dangerous chemicals, and be sure to follow manufacturer’s directions, including using protective equipment and adequate ventilation. Source control: find greener safer substitutes.

Consider the Facts:

Over 3 million Canadians cope with one of five serious respiratory diseases – asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, tuberculosis (TB), and cystic fibrosis. These and other respiratory diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, respiratory distress syndrome and sleep apnea affect individuals of all ages, cultures and backgrounds – from children to parents to grandparents.

In 2013, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.
Cancer-Deaths-Youth-30-Years

25,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer. This represents 14% of all new cancer cases
• 20,200 Canadians will die from lung cancer. This represents 27% of all cancer deaths in 2013.
• 13,300 men will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 10,700 will die from it.
• 12,200 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 9,500 will die from it.
• On average, 70 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every day.
• On average, 55 Canadians will die from lung cancer every day.

All statistics are estimates from: Canadian Cancer Society’s Steering Committee: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013. Toronto: Canadian Cancer Society, 2013
picture of health effects of poor indoor air quality

 

Protect yourself and your family; know what you are breathing with an assessment of your indoor air quality. Call the experts at 1-800-520-7443