No matter what time of year it may be, or how clean you keep your home, there can be a hidden danger, lurking, waiting to strike. It can be growing right now, as we speak, threatening to cause health problems for you and your family. It’s pervasive, invasive, and unwelcome in any home. Often, you don’t even know you have it, and it can be hard to spot, even while damage is being done. What is this hidden menace? Mold, mildew, and common allergens!
Some people are extremely sensitive to common allergens, mold, mildew, bacteria, and other unpleasant things that can develop in your home office, garage, and elsewhere. Others may not be sensitive to these problems, but can, over time, develop serious health issues as a result.
In all cases, these hidden dangers should be identified and dealt with, in order to reduce any harm that may come to you or your family members. It’s especially important for those people who have small children, the elderly, or anyone with high sensitivities or depressed immune systems to deal with these problems promptly and professionally, before they have a negative impact on your life.
The best way to ensure that allergens, mold, and mildew in your home is identified, treated, removed, and is less likely to reoccur is to have a professional inspection service conduct tests in your home. In the greater Los Angeles area, FunGuy Inspections is a leading company that performs these tests, and many other related diagnostic and investigative services. They can help identify what is growing in your home, what’s spreading in the air, and – most importantly – how to get it treated, and steps to take so that it won’t happen again.
Indoor air quality is much more important than most people believe. The average American spends 87 percent of their life indoors, according to the EPA. If we’re not outside getting fresh air, then it’s essential to do everything we can to improve the quality of the air inside our homes and offices. Here are seven eco-friendly ways to do that without emptying your wallet in the process.
Go Green — Literally
Going green, in this case, doesn’t refer to using eco-friendly products or separating your recyclables. When it comes to improving air quality, the concept of going green is a little more literal. Adding plants to your home can help improve interior air quality naturally, at the cost of a bit of water a few times a week. According to NASA, some plants are better than others for this task. To find the best plants for cleaning the air in space, the agency compiled a list of common houseplants that can be used to remove everything from benzene and ammonia to formaldehyde from the air around them.
Most of these plants, from snake plants to English ivy, can be picked up at your local nursery for a few dollars each. Plus, research has shown that keeping houseplants can improve your mental health, so it’s a win-win.
Leave Your Shoes Outside
How many of you reading this wear your shoes all the time, even if you’re in the house? If this sounds like you, you’re not alone, but you may also be contributing to the poor air quality within your home. When you wear your shoes indoors, you’re tracking in everything you’ve stepped in during the day, from dust and pollen to dangerous chemicals. These molecules are cast into the air every time you take a step.
Start by leaving your shoes on the porch or just inside your front door. If you need to have something on your feet, keep a pair of slippers or house shoes that you can wear while you’re indoors. This little change can improve the quality of the air in your home without costing you a dime.
Call a Professional
If you’re trying to save money, it might be tempting to try to repair your home’s HVAC system on your own. This kind of DIY is only a good idea if you’re an HVAC professional. Otherwise, you may find yourself in over your head with the system’s high voltage power and dangerous refrigerants. One improperly tightened seal could leak coolant into your home, severely compromising your interior air quality and putting both yourself and your family at risk. Releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere is also dangerous for the environment.
Calling a professional, licensed technician might be expensive, but when it comes to your home’s HVAC system, it is the most eco-friendly option available.
Adding organic fruits and vegetables to your diet isn’t just a great way to avoid ingesting pesticides or other dangerous chemicals — it can also help to protect the air quality of your home. The compounds that preserve traditionally farmed produce can permeate the air around them, especially if you leave some of your fruits or vegetables in bowls or on the counter rather than in the fridge.
Going organic might be a little bit more expensive than buying regular grocery store fruits and vegetables, but in the long run, it’s better for your health and the air quality in your home.
Fix Those Leaky Taps
Areas that don’t get a lot of foot traffic, like your basement or utility room, might have leaky taps that are ignored. Even minor leaks can be detrimental to your interior air quality, though. The damp environment created by those leaks creates the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Both of these organisms release spores into the atmosphere that can cause allergies and exacerbate existing breathing problems like asthma and COPD.
Depending on the severity of the leak, you may be able to do these repairs yourself. For anything you’re not sure about, it’s always a good idea to call a professional. As a bonus, repairing those leaks will reduce your home’s water usage, which is also eco-friendly.
Quit Smoking or Head Outside
Tobacco smoke is one of the most significant contributors to indoor air pollution. While it is illegal to smoke or vape indoors in public places, no such rules exist for private homes. Quitting is the best thing you can do to improve the air quality in your home, but if that isn’t an option, then taking your habit outside can help keep your interior air cleaner.
Secondhand smoke is dangerous to human health, so keeping it out of your home can help improve the health of everyone who lives there.
Limit Products With VOCs
Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) appear in many products you might use every day, from your aerosol hair spray to the cleaning products beneath your sink. To make your home a little bit more eco-friendly while improving interior air quality, limit the number of VOCs in your home. With so many eco-conscious consumers making educated decisions about the products they buy, it’s easier than ever to find green cleaning and beauty products.
Do a quick search for low-VOC products, and you’ll be surprised at how many options are available for you to choose from. They may cost you a few dollars more than the chemical-based alternatives, but when it comes to eco-friendly options that are also wallet-friendly, you can’t do much better than this.
You don’t have to empty your wallet to improve the quality of the air in your home or business. It can be as simple as adding some greenery to each room or swapping out your bleach and ammonia cleaners for green alternatives.
When most people think of “air quality,” they think of the outdoors; the smog, haze, even pollen.
But what many people don’t realize is that factors inside the home can also lead to poor air quality, causing potentially serious health risks.
10TV found out why indoor air quality tends to become more of an issue when the temperature drops.
What it really comes down to, according to Alisha Hopkins, a certified nurse practitioner with the Breathing Association, is the simple fact that when it gets colder outside, people tend to stay in their homes for longer periods at a time.
That means more exposure to all the particles, molds and bacteria inside the home.
“Your home is your safe harbor and then all of a sudden, now, it’s this area of just triggers everywhere,” Hopkins said. “So no matter where you go there’s a trigger. …We always think of the outside but we forget that our home is one of the places that we literally lay our heads down, we relax in, and if you’re relaxing in a bunch of dirt, relaxing in pet dander, the fur, that too will make our breathing that much worse.
One woman told 10TV she notices a difference in her breathing as soon as the holiday decorations come out.
“I just start to get the stuffy nose, the watery eyes and then my asthma really kicks up,” said Cindy Groeniger, vice chair for the American Lung Association local leadership board.
Groeniger has suffered from asthma since she was just 10 months old, she said.
“Every fall season it’s bad because I decorate and then you have, you know, mold or dust maybe on your decorations so I have to watch that,” Groeniger said. “Sometimes I have to increase my medicine for the holidays.”
Tips for improving indoor air quality can be simple, Hopkins said.
Vacuum your mattresses, carpet, couches and chairs inside to get ride of dirt, particles and pet dander that could build up over the year.
Groom pets heading into the colder months. Many pets tend to shed more in the fall but grooming them can decrease the amount of pet dander in the air.
Use air filters and humidifiers, making sure to clean them out regularly to avoid mildew and mold buildup.
Wipe down handles, door knobs and surfaces, keeping them free of germs. Because people tend to stay inside more through the winter, illnesses can spread easier from person to person.
Replace furnace filters before cranking up the heat.
Fall is also a good time to make sure that furnaces are carbon monoxide-free, Hopkins said that. Double check carbon monoxide detectors in the home to make sure they are working properly.
For more information on indoor air quality, click here.
House fires are terrifying because the flames can cause intense bodily harm that results in serious injury and even death. Once the fire is put out, many homeowners are relieved in the sense that the threat to their life or health has ended. However, the flames themselves are not the only potential source of health issues. Many of the byproducts of a fire are toxic. Fires leave behind smoke, soot, corrosive byproducts, and even mold that negatively affects your health. It is important to know the health risks caused by the byproducts of a fire to keep yourself and your family safe in the aftermath.
All fires involve smoke and everyone knows that smoke inhalation is extremely dangerous because of the chemicals it contains. Smoke is the byproduct of incomplete combustion and contains the following toxins:
Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN): The potential health effects of carbon monoxide are well known as many homes have carbon monoxide detectors for safety. Less people know about the risks of the other major chemical in smoke, hydrogen cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide is over 30 times more toxic than carbon monoxide and inhaling a combination of both can be deadly. Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of fire related deaths.
Chemicals from Burnt Materials: When materials such as wood, drywall, and flooring are burned in a fire, they release hundreds of chemicals in the smoke that are harmful to your health. Some of the dangerous chemicals released by burning household materials include hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, carboxylic acids, nitrogen oxides, acid gases, sulfur dioxide, and much more.
After the fire and smoke have cleared, there is still a substance present that can spread throughout the home and cause health issues as well as property damage; soot. Soot is dangerous because it spreads and settles everywhere including the air ducts where it can get redistributed into the air. Most health problems caused by soot result from inhalation but soot can also get absorbed in the skin and eyes. The main health effects from soot include lung irritation and respiratory issues such as bronchitis and asthma as well as more serious issues including heart attack, stroke, and even cancer.
Few people associate mold growth with house fires but if a house fire is extinguished with water, this excess moisture can quickly lead to mold growth. Moisture is the main cause of mold growth and organic materials that are wet from putting out the fire can become contaminated with mold within 48 hours. Mold not only adds to the health risks already present after a fire, but also causes even more property damage that makes the restoration process longer and more expensive.
If a fire breaks out in your home, make sure that everyone evacuates safely and do not return to your home until it has been restored and deemed safe. The byproducts of a fire are just as dangerous as the fire itself and can cause serious health effects long after the fire has been put out. It is of extreme importance to begin the fire damage restoration as soon as possible by hiring professionals that can safely remove dangerous byproducts from soot and smoke. These professionals have effective cleaning products and personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe during the restoration process
Expert in emergency fire and water restoration services, fire cleanup and water damage cleanup, mold removal, as well as carpet and upholstery cleaning services. Contributor to several restoration and cleaning blogs.
National Indoor Air Quality Awareness Month is observed annually in October. This month is dedicated to reminding Americans to take a look at their home and see how they can improve the quality of the air they breathe. While outside air pollution gets a lot of attention, it’s the air inside our homes that can be even more dangerous. Most people spend nearly 80% of their time indoors, so the quality of the air we breathe is very important.
What is Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor Air Quality refers to the air quality within buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of the occupants in the building. Studies conducted by the EPA show that indoor air can be 3 – 5 times more contaminated than outdoor air. This spike in air pollution may be due to modern day building practices. In an effort to be more energy efficient, today’s homes are built airtight with more insulation.
On the flipside, these less drafty homes no longer have natural ventilation to bring in fresh air. Everyday living provides an ongoing source for airborne contaminants like dirt, dust, and dander. These pollutants become trapped in your home due to poor ventilation and get recirculated by your air ducts.
Why is Indoor Air Quality Important?
Breathing quality indoor air is critical for good health. Common complaints related to poor indoor air quality include headaches, fatigue, nausea or irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Some people, including children, seniors and those with asthma and allergies may be more sensitive to indoor air pollutants, and their symptoms tend to be more serious.
What Contributes to Indoor Air Quality?
Volatile organic compounds
Particulates (from dirt and dust tracked in from outdoors)
How Can Air Duct Cleaning Improve your Indoor Air?
Air duct cleaning is a great way to address the air quality inside your home. Professional air duct cleaning can provide an evaluation of your home’s ducts. Through everyday occupancy, your home’s ducts can become clogged with dirt, dust and pet hair. When air can’t circulate through a system or when filters are especially dirty, they can become breeding grounds for mold and bacteria.
NADCA recommends having your air ducts inspected once a year and cleaned as needed. When it comes time to hire an air duct cleaning company, be sure to hire a NADCA-certified technician. This will ensure the job is done according to industry standards.
With wildfires burning throughout the state, in addition to recent local grass fires, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District continues to warn the public about poor air quality, including incidents of severely bad air that may occur sporadically in the coming days.
For a few hours late Saturday, the amount of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air spiked in Bakersfield and all eight counties across the San Joaquin Valley air district, to a Level 5, the highest level, where all people are advised to remain indoors.
By the next day, Bakersfield had clearer skies and air quality was back down to a moderate range. District officials said winds temporarily pushed smoke into the valley during that several hour period.
“All that pollution literally just inundated the entire San Joaquin Valley,” said Cassandra Melching, outreach and communication representative for the air district.
Because the air can be safe at one point in the day and dangerous at another, depending upon wind flows, Melching said an air quality alert is standing for all areas.
On Saturday, regions farther north in close proximity to the fire were substantially affected, Melching said, with Oakhurst in Madera County reaching a PM 2.5 concentration of 246 micrograms per cubic meter. It takes only 75 micrograms to reach level five risk. Bakersfield hit 87 micrograms that same day.
“We can’t quite say who is going to be impacted the most and when…It doesn’t mean that every single day our air quality is bad,” Melching said.
Glen Stephens, air pollution control officer of the Eastern Kern Air Pollution Control District, said the district has not released any alerts, but is tracking the smoke levels. He said there is less of a concern in eastern Kern County and mountain areas compared to valley locations like Bakersfield, but that there is still poor air quality.
“It’s generally bad. Right now it’s bad because of ozone, not because of the fire,” Stephens said.
The best way to know whether it is safe to be outdoors is by tracking your location on the Valley Air app or online at valley air.org. It is especially important for sensitive groups such as the elderly and those with asthma to remain cautious and updated.
Melching said to also be aware of the potential for ash in the air, which is most likely when temperatures cool down and is not monitored in the air quality levels.
“If you smell smoke, or if you see ash falling, you are being impacted,” Melching said.
Ways to reduce your risk of being affected by the smoke are to limit outdoor exercise, stay hydrated, change your air air filters and keep windows shut.