The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. This statistic is alarming if you consider the potentially serious threat the poor air quality poses to the average American. This becomes even more concerning when you thank about how many people are sensitive to their environment. Finding the cause of any form of indoor air pollution is vital to keeping you and your family or staff safe. I’ve had some experience with just how much indoor air quality issues can turn your life upside down. While some people have no problems with the below culprits, the ones who do can experience an array of acute symptoms and even severe long-term health problems. Though there are so many things that could be altering your air quality, here are some of the most common sources of indoor air pollution.
Mold is a type of fungus that flourishes from spores that grow in damp areas around your home or office. Mold can vary in color, depending on the type. Look for strange-looking spots that are green, yellow, white, orange, or black. These patches can be rough or slick in texture and be odorless. It is estimated that over 50% of homes in America have mold issues, and, unfortunately, up to 28% of the population has genes that increase their risk of mold-related health problems. My daughter is one of them. And, though I don’t have the mold gene, I, too, have experienced a horrible illness from long-term mold exposure.
The most worrying thing about mold is that it releases a broad range of harmful toxins into the air that causes a set of symptoms that usually baffle doctors. The other thing you should know is that mold exposure is cumulative. Meaning that the more you are exposed, the worse the effects are and the more challenging it is to eradicate mold toxins (mycotoxins) from the body.
Water damage in homes or office buildings is a prime cause of mold growth since most fungus needs moisture to thrive. So, the places you spend the majority of your time could be poisoning you without you even knowing it. If you suspect mold to be a problem in your environment, I strongly recommend that you seek out a mold and water damage restoration expert to assess the space and give you a plan to restore it to a healthful state.
Carpet is arguably the safest flooring type, especially if you have young kids or pets. It’s also an excellent solution for work environments since it soaks up spills, reduces breakages, and helps prevent slips and falls. However, your carpet traps pollutants like smoke particles, dust, and mold spores, making it a leading source of indoor air pollution in homes and offices. Additionally, there’s a high chance that the newly-installed carpet will discharge chemicals from its vinyl backing as well as the glue used to secure it to the floor. Many of these chemicals are associated with unpleasant symptoms like nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Your indoor air quality could be seriously compromised if they are present.
Your furry friends could sadly be responsible for a form of indoor air pollution that’s irritating you and the rest of the family. Pets, like dogs and cats, shed their skin cells (dander) and hair into the air. Though dander isn’t high on the list of indoor air pollutants, it’s likely number one if you have allergies. These allergies come with the potential for annoying symptoms like throat irritation, wheezing, and coughing fits, as well as sinus problems and eye irritation. Generally, pet dander is only irritating and not deadly, but it can trigger an anaphylactic shock in extreme cases.
Copy Machines and Other Office Equipment
The use of office equipment like copy machines and printers could have an unintentional consequence: polluted air. Several studies have linked photocopiers to asthma, sore throats, and other health problems. This is because these machines emit ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and other toxic gasses. Fortunately, improving air quality in offices can be as simple as opening the nearest window or maintaining the HVAC system properly.
Indoor air quality is something to think about even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms right now. I recommend getting your home and office tested for mold. This simple act could save you money, time, and the stress and discomfort of an illness. The other items can be monitored and changed fairly easily if needed.