Far too often the symptoms of poor indoor quality go ignored because they are confused for symptoms of seasonal diseases or the common flu. This article will teach you the symptoms of poor indoor air quality, its common causes, as well as what you can do to improve the air quality inside your house. This will be particularly useful for those with small children in the house, as well as people who regularly suffer from allergies and respiratory problems.
According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), common symptoms of poor indoor air quality include:
- Dryness and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin
- A general feeling of fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Hypersensitivity and allergies
It can be hard to pinpoint poor air quality as being the cause of the symptoms listed above. Often, the biggest clue is the fact that the symptoms are intermittent. You may find that you feel worse in the morning before you leave for work, and then the symptoms start to fade away slowly over the course of your day away from home.
You may also find that your health seems to improve after you spend time away from the house over a weekend or during a vacation.
According to the CCOHS, there are other indoor issues that can cause some or all of the symptoms listed above. Potential causes include noise levels, indoor temperature, indoor humidity, indoor air movement, lighting, and ergonomics.
Common indoor contaminants
Since the symptoms can be hard to attribute to air pollution, one of the best ways to stay on top of your indoor air quality is to keep an eye out for the most common contaminants. According to the CCOHS, common sources of indoor air pollution include:
- House occupants. People can pollute the air via CO2 from their breathing, as well as by smoking indoors, using strong perfumes, and having strong body odors.
- Building materials. Dust, fiberglass, asbestos, and gases like formaldehyde can all escape from the structure of your house and contaminate the air inside.
- Furniture. Carpets, paintings, and other pieces of furniture can all emit gases, vapors, and odors that lower the quality of the house’s air. Carpets, fabrics, and chair cushions can also contain dust mites.
- Damp areas. Stagnate humidity in any area of the house can lead to the appearance of microbial contaminants, fungi, molds, and bacteria that dissipate in the house’s air.
- Electric devices. Photocopy machines, electric motors, and electrostatic air cleaners can all produce ozone, which can cause serious damage to the lungs.
Improving indoor air quality
The effort to improve air quality should, of course, involve minimizing or eliminating all the sources of contamination listed above. To mitigate the human sources of pollution, you can make your home a no-smoking area, and try to increase air circulation in your rooms — especially in your bedrooms, so that the people in your house aren’t spending hours breathing in air pollution every time they fall asleep.
That aside, you can also improve indoor air quality by doing the following.
1 – Keep the floors clean. Sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming the floor can help reduce the amount of pollution that gets kicked into the air as people walk around the house.
2 – Control the humidity. Keeping the house’s humidity under 50% can help keep dust mites and other allergens at bay. You can achieve that through the use of a dehumidifier, or by using an air conditioner. But bear in mind that air that is too dry can also be bad for your airways — a humidity level between 30 and 50% is generally the ideal.
3 – Deal with your carpets. Carpets are a common cause of air pollution. If you have one for years, consider bringing in a professional to give the carpet a deep cleaning treatment, as common household cleaning solutions often don’t reach a carpet’s deeper layers of dirt and contamination. Or, if allergies are a common problem in the house, consider removing the carpet entirely.
4 – Basement and crawl spaces. Due to the way air currents work, most of the air in your house goes through your basement or crawl space at some point. Make sure those areas are clean and dry by doing regular inspections.
5 – Try natural cleaners. Cleaning products based on citrus extracts are often safer to handle and their fumes aren’t nearly as strong or toxic as the fumes of traditional cleaning products. Consider using natural cleaning products for your everyday house cleaning needs, especially if ventilation is a problem in your house. Of course, not all these steps can easily be implemented right away. This is why, until you can get rid of the pollutants, you should manage your symptoms via the use of pharmaceuticals and natural remedies. CBD can also help you relax and fall asleep, should that become a problem. The substance also has some positive effects on your hormonal balance.