Indoor Air Quality

The majority of people spend most of their time indoors. The air we breathe inside our homes, schools, and offices put us at risk for many health problems. The problems that air pollutants can cause or worsen are allergies, respiratory illnesses, heart disease, and many other long-term conditions. The first step towards minimizing these risks is to identify the common types of pollutants that can affect indoor air quality.


There are many sources of air pollutants. They can be gas, chemical, or organic.


  • Radon: Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed in the soil. It can enter your home via cracks in the floors or walls on ground level. It is the leading cause of lung cancer among nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in general. Radon is responsible for approximately 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Radon test kits are available to determine if it is present inside your home.

Combustion Pollutants:

These are gases or particles that come from burning materials. The most common source of combustion pollutants in homes are improperly vented fuel-burning appliances such as dryers, fireplaces, gas stoves, and woodstoves.

  • Carbon Monoxide: Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that interrupts the delivery of oxygen throughout the body. It causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, and at high levels can be fatal. Carbon monoxide detectors can be placed in your home for early detection.
  • Nitrogen Dioxide: Also a colorless, odorless gas, this can cause eye, throat, and nose irritation, shortness of breath, and even respiratory infection. Ensure that all fuel-burning appliances are properly installed, used, maintained, and ventilated.
  • Secondhand Smoke: Secondhand smoke comes from burning tobacco products and puts people, especially children, at risk for respiratory diseases. Protect yourself and children by not smoking or allowing people to smoke in your home or car.


  • Volatile Organic Compounds: These are carbon–based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. They’re commonly found in paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, air fresheners, dry-cleaned clothing, cosmetics, and many other sources. The short-term effects can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. Long-term effects cause permanent damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system, and can even cause cancer. Since we are surrounded by so many products that produce VOCs, it’s best to try and limit exposure by using natural and organic products whenever possible. Also, make sure to have proper ventilation when using products that may release VOCs.


  • Molds: Molds are living things that produce spores that float in the air, land on damp surfaces, and grow. Inhaling or touching molds can cause sneezing, runny nose, irritated eyes, and skin rashes. It also contributes to asthma attacks. The best way to try and prevent mold growth is to keep your home between 30%-50% humidity. You can purchase a humidity gauge and, if necessary, a humidifier to stabilize indoor humidity.
  • Dust Mites: These are common allergens found in the household because they feed on flakes of shed human skin. They depend on moisture to survive and are most often found in pillows, bedding, furniture, carpets, and stuffed animals. Mites reproduce quickly. Their fecal particles, as well as an exoskeleton, contribute to allergic reactions. One way to quickly break down house mite fecal particles is to spray eucalyptus oil on fabrics in the home. Also, it’s best to use allergen-proof pillow and mattress covers, wash bedding in hot water weekly, and vacuum often.

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