October is Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month
You don’t have to drive a car through your living room or build a factory in your bedroom to have poor indoor air quality. Indoor air pollution can take residence in any room in your home with little or no knowledge of its existence. Indoor Air Pollutants such as pet dander, dust, carbon monoxide, mold, VOCs, and radon are all avoidable.
Pet dander can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. That is why it’s important to not only vacuum and dust regularly, but to clean carpets, rugs and furniture frequently as well.
Dust is another indoor pollution factor that can collect literally anywhere in the home. The bedrooms and living room areas are perfect places for dust to build up on tops of furniture, appliances, and upholstery. Since dust mites also have the same effect as pet dander, it is important to routinely clean bedding and other fabrics like upholstered furniture, stuffed toys, pillows and blankets.
Dust and pet dander aren’t the only indoor air pollution factors affecting your air quality. Carbon monoxide can be detrimental because it’s odorless, colorless and toxic, and over-exposure can cause death. Household heating and cooling appliances, like air conditioning units, gas heaters, and gas stoves are sources of carbon monoxide, but these are things we use every day and so it’s essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in the home to prevent exposure.
Mold is a well-known indoor air pollutant. It’s found most often in the bathroom, because of the humidity from showers. A ventilation fan helps to control that moisture build-up. Mold also thrives in damp basements, so it’s beneficial to install a dehumidifier. If you have an unfinished basement or a crawlspace it’s a good idea to install a crawlspace encapsulation system. You can visit the video library section of our blog for videos of how to install your crawlspace liner. Americover offers waterproofing liners and crawlspace encapsulation liners for every budget, some with added features like anti-microbial which prevents the growth of bacteria near the liner, or fire retardant which self-extinguishes. If you have water damage, to prevent mold growth, you’ll need to dry within 24-48 hours.
As if there weren’t enough factors to consider with pet dander, dust, carbon-monoxide, and mold, you also have to be careful of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Household cleaners, paints, resins, even things like nail polish, insect pest products, and degreasers can release VOCs into the air when used and stored. If at all possible you should buy products that don’t contain VOCs, but if unavoidable make sure these items are stored properly and when used that there is a decent ventilation system.
Lastly Basements that aren’t encapsulated allow the passage of radon, the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers in the U.S. Radon can enter the home through the floors and walls via cracks and openings and the only way to know if it’s in your home is by getting it tested. You can hire a professional or use a DIY test kit, but it’s important to find out if your radon level is too high. If building a new home, you should ask if they can include radon-resistant new construction (RRNC), this process draws radon from the soil through a pipe and vents it to the roof, another option is too hire a contractor to install a radon mitigation system.
This Old House has a DIY video on how to install radon mitigation, but “this is a job best left to a pro.”