August 30, 2017

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Unhealthy air isn’t just outside of your home. Air pollution can, and does, occur inside homes as well. In fact, a George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health report found that 90% of homes contain toxic dust. The dust they analyzed included 45 potentially toxic chemicals from flooring, building materials, and even cleaning products.

According to HomeLab, creator of a program that monitors your home’s vitals and provides expert guidance in creating a non-toxic healthy home, following is some information that will help you target, and remove, harmful contaminants from your home.

Toxic issues that could be lurking in your home

It’s not breaking news that cleaners, makeup, candles, and other products commonly found in a home might contain toxic substances. But, did you know that appliances, furniture, and even walls that were painted years ago could off gas harmful chemicals?

The two most prevalent pollutants to be concerned with in your home are particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including gases such as CO, CO2, and NO2. Let’s break both down:

  • Particulate matter: There are three different particulate sizes, ranging from ultrafine, fine, and coarse, with larger particulates being dust, dander, pollen, and mold. These larger particulates are unable to travel very far in the respiratory system, so they don’t pose as serious of a threat as fine particles, such as bacteria, car emissions, and mold spores. Their smaller size allows them to travel deep into the respiratory system and potentially cause long-term health effects. Ultrafine particles pose even more of a threat as they are nano-particles that you might not even realize you’re being exposed to.

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): The five most prevalent VOCs in a home are formaldehyde, radon, flame retardant chemicals (such as those used on furniture and clothing), benzene (found in resins, dyes, detergents, and pesticides), and carbon monoxide.

Measuring and combating toxin and pollutant levels

While these might seem like large, invisible threats, have no fear: there are ways to detect and combat these toxins in your home.

Just as energy audits test the performance of your home in terms of energy usage and waste, you can also use air monitors and lab testing to measure the level of air toxins in your home. Air monitors can be purchased online and the results easily understood by you, the homeowner. Be sure to choose the right monitor for your needs. There are air quality monitors that can identify particulate or levels that also have CO and CO2 sensors. There are many monitors out there that a Google search of “air quality monitors” could help you find.

More often than not, analyzing this air monitor data can help you determine the initial steps you can take to better your home’s indoor air quality. You may be able to resolve the issue on your own, or you may want to call in a professionally certified Healthy Home Evaluator, who will be able to better pinpoint and solve your home’s indoor air issues. Your home may require mold or radon remediation, or your issues could lie in a lack of proper ventilation. Either way, a professional could better prescribe next steps for you.

Check out this free HomeLab eBook, “How to Create a Healthy, Non-Toxic Home,” for more information on how you, as a homeowner, can combat poor indoor air quality.

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Quinn Korzeniecki

Quinn Korzeniecki joined the Building Performance Institute, Inc. team as the Senior Communications Associate in August 2015. As a new first-time homeowner herself, she enjoys sharing information on how other homeowners can not only save money and energy by being efficient, but can also keep themselves and their families safe and healthy in the process.