3 Indoor Air Hazards Impacting You

Are you worried about the air you breathe? Many of think of the outdoors when we hear the word pollutants; things like carbon monoxide, ground-level ozone and nitrogen come to mind, but what about indoor air pollutants? In fact, the EPA says that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.

While long-term exposure to indoor air pollutants can cause major health problems, there isn’t cause to worry just yet. The good news is that in addition to learning the most common indoor air pollutants, there are easy steps you can take to rid your home of those hazards.

Mold & Mildew: Mold and mildew are found just about everywhere, especially where there is moisture. Mold and mildew release spores into the air, which may cause irritation when we touch them or breathe them in. While mold and mildew may not impact everyone, some individuals have mold allergies.

To get rid of mold, start by focusing on these common spots for mold: basements, closets, bathrooms, food storage areas, refrigerators, house plants and air conditioners. Make sure to practice safe cleaning techniques; wear a mask, eye protection and gloves, as well as providing adequate ventilation and using proper cleaning products.

Carbon monoxide (CO): While most of us know carbon monoxide can be a deadly pollutant, the Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly 400 Americans die each year from unintentional CO poisoning.

CO can be released from fuel-burning stoves, heaters and other common appliances. CO is especially serious as it blocks the movement of oxygen in the body, causing a wide range of side effects.

Because CO is an odorless and colorless gas, it can be hard to detect without the proper equipment. To be safe, experts recommend installing at least one carbon monoxide alarm on every level of your home. Also, calling a professional to inspect and repair heating systems is suggested.

Asbestos: This naturally occurring mineral was once a common material used throughout the household, ranging from insulation and floor tiles to window caulking and cement. While its use has decreased since the 1980’s, it can still be found in some houses and buildings.

Products that contain asbestos are only a concern if they become damaged and release breathable asbestos fibers. Asbestos can cause scarring of lung tissue and lung cancer.

If you believe that you may have asbestos in your home, contact a professional to remove it. Do not touch it yourself as you may release asbestos fibers into the air. Before professionals remove the asbestos, make sure that all members of the house, including pets, are out of the work area. Also, notify neighbors since they are in close proximity.

There are several indoor and outdoor air pollutants to be mindful of. One of the best ways to ensure your family's safety is to learn the common signs of pollutant irritation. Also, utilize simple health tips to breathe safer at home; investing in air filters, dehumidifiers and/or humidifiers is a great place to start. 

If you do notice that you or a loved one is showing signs of pollution irritation, make sure to talk to your physician. Gwinnett Medical Center offers specialized sinus services which can heal breathing related conditions thoroughly and safely. 


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