What Is The Most Dangerous Indoor Air Pollutant?

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What Is The Most Dangerous Indoor Air Pollutant?

Homes in Illinois and Northwest Indiana are often filled with love, laughter, and memories, but life isn’t always a “feel good” movie or TV show. Many of those same homes are also filled with pollutants and unhealthy indoor air quality (IAQ). This is a danger we’ve learned much more about in the last few years with the EPA calling indoor air quality a leading public health hazard.

Leading IAQ Issues

So, what causes poor indoor air quality? Like many health-related questions, the answers are as complex as the solutions. To start, Merts Heating & Air Conditioning wants to look at some of the most common and dangerous pollutants that can be found in your Steger, IL or Crown Point, IN house.

  • Biological Pollutants: As the name indicates these pollutants are related to living organisms. The list includes bacteria, mold, waste material from insects & dust mites, pet dander, and more. Any and all of these can be present in your home, hiding in dirty HVAC filters, in your ductwork, or inside the air handler waiting to be spread throughout your home as the air circulates. Biological pollutants can worsen symptoms for those who suffer from allergies and asthma.
  • Combustion Pollutants: Any burning fuel creates combustion byproducts. This includes gas stoves, fireplaces, furnaces, fuel burning space heaters, and water heaters. When fuel is burned gases are emitted, including deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Radon: This is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and is generally considered the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Underground radon can enter your home through cracks in the floors, walls, and other openings.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds: Also called VOCs for short, these chemical compounds evaporate easily at room temperature. They are so widespread that exposure is unavoidable, but the concentration can be higher indoors because the VOCs are trapped. A few sources include:
    • Paints, glues, stains, etc.
    • Chemicals used to treat material in carpets & furniture
    • Chemical cleaners
    • Dry cleaning chemical residue on clothes
    • Stored gasoline & diesel fuel

Studies show VOCs are harmful and regulatory agencies are responsible for determining the exposure level that is considered safe for people.

  • Cigarette Smoke: Cigarette smoke contains about 200 known poisons (including some VOCs) and 60 cancer causing chemicals. It’s why secondhand tobacco smoke is considered one of the most dangerous indoor air pollutants. If someone in your house, or a guest, needs to smoke it should always be done outside.

Looking For Solutions

Improving indoor air quality requires a multi-pronged approach to eliminate as many pollutants as possible.

  • Increase ventilation by opening windows when possible.
  • Change HVAC filters as recommended or even more often.
  • Talk to Merts about installing advanced air filtration and purification systems.
  • Schedule regular HVAC maintenance which includes air quality tests, especially for carbon monoxide.
  • Check with your local health department to learn if Radon is present & how to test for it.

The Bottom Line

Studies show most of us spend a vast majority (80-90 percent) of our time indoors. Call Merts Heating & Air Conditioning to learn more about making the air you breathe in your Illinois or Northwest Indiana home as healthy as possible. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more great indoor air quality information.