What are the symptoms of bad air quality in the home? Airborne pollutants and contaminants are found everywhere and can have an effect on you. When it comes to indoor air quality specifically, we want to have acceptable levels in our homes and workplaces. It is often difficult to link health problems with poor indoor air quality. The air in your home could be harming you and your family without you even knowing it.
That is why it’s important to know the symptoms of bad air quality in the home. By identifying the causes of poor air quality, you will be able to solve the problems. Let’s look at some of the common signs that you should look for in spotting a problem with air quality.
Family Members Get Sick Often
If you or family members are getting sick often and it doesn’t seem to be virus-related, your air quality could be the culprit. The health ailments or symptoms are usually mild, so it might not be easy to identify them at first.
Those who have allergies are more susceptible to contaminants in environments found indoors. There is a range of responses that could trigger allergies for a person. But most of those irritants are found outdoors, such as pollen and dust. Pay attention to where they seem to be experiencing symptoms. For example, if you have been having symptoms in your home, pay attention to how you feel when you are out of the house for the day. If your symptoms disappeared while you were gone and then reappear when you are home, it’s likely that your home’s indoor air quality is the problem.
More extreme symptoms like dizziness, nausea, rashes, vomiting, shortness of breath, and fatigue could mean that you’re dealing with a more serious issue. Asbestos, toxic mold spores, and other hazardous chemicals have more extreme effects on a person’s health, so it’s important to get the problem fixed as soon as possible.
If you live in a hot and humid climate or one that experiences heat and humidity during the summer seasons, you may feel that a “musty odor” is acceptable, because it’s common to experience this in a retail store or movie theater. But a musty smell is not acceptable to have consistency in your home.
Generally, the cause of the smell is mold, which should be dealt with quickly to prevent it from spreading. Condensation from windows piping, floors, or exterior walls or leaky plumbing is a common cause of mold.
Air Seems to Be Still
Still or stagnant air in your home creates an ideal environment for mold growth. The home’s air circulation is likely to be insufficient in moving the air around effectively. Opening a window is not an ideal solution to this situation, depending on the outside weather conditions. Plus, you will draw in the outdoor pollutants, which is not good if you have family members with allergies.
If there is a ceiling fan in the room, you can try to get air moving that way. What’s often the case is that you need a better solution like installing a ventilation system into your existing HVAC to get air properly moving.
Long-term Health Effects
The effects of polluted air can cause even healthy people to experience problems like difficulty breathing. Depending on your health, type of pollutant and its concentration, and exposure, you risk adverse effects. Immediate health problems caused by polluted air include:
- Additional stress on the heart and lungs; these organs must work harder to supply oxygen to the body;
- Respiratory illness and cardiovascular problems; and
- Damaged cells in the respiratory system.
Permanent health effects that are caused by long-term exposure include:
- A shortened life span;
- Lung capacity loss and lower lung function;
- The aging of lungs being accelerated; and
- Asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and potentially cancer.
These long-term effects can take years of exposure before they show up or they could occur after repeated exposure periods. There is a need for more research to determine what periods of exposure or concentrations are enough for specific health problems to surface. The EPA recommends you improve the indoor air quality in your home, whether symptoms are noticeable or not.
Those who are most susceptible to experiencing severe health problems include women who are pregnant, those with heart-related problems, and individuals with lung-related problems (e.g., asthma, emphysema).
What Causes Poor Air Quality In The Home?
Indoor air contaminants can be caused by many different factors. Your local air quality, which can change on a daily basis, is also a significant consideration. The daily levels of air quality are measured by EPA using the Air Quality Index, which calculates the levels of unhealthy air. Four main pollutants are used to measure these daily levels: ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and particle pollution.
Gadgets are available to test the indoor air quality of your home. The main indoor air contaminants and their common sources include:
- Dust, asbestos, gases, fiberglass – building materials
- Vapors, odors, gases – off-gas emissions originating from carpets, paints, and furniture
- Dust mites – fabric, foam chair cushions, carpets
- Ozone – electric motors, electrostatic air cleaners, and photocopiers
- Microbial contaminants (fungus, mold, bacteria) – damp areas, condensation pans, and places with stagnant water
- Carbon dioxide, tobacco smoke, perfume – home occupants
- Toxic vapors, volatile organic compounds – disinfectants, glues, solvents
High humidity levels and temperature result in an increased concentration of some pollutants. Poor ventilation in a home can further increase the levels of indoor pollutants. This is due to there not being enough outdoor air brought in to dilute the indoor sources of the emissions, pushing these indoor air pollutants out of the home.
Improve Your Home’s Air Quality
The short-term and long-term health effects of poor air quality are not problems you or your family should have to face. Contact the professionals at Presidential Heating and Air Conditioning and we’ll help improve the air quality in your home to make it a safe and healthy place.