Even the cleanest of homes could still go further to make them that much cleaner and safer. Very often, we forget about one important aspect of a clean home – indoor air quality. You may not be aware of it but many of the household products you use right now may be harming you and your family. Many people are actually surprised that the products they have trusted for a long time are not always as safe as they thought. These products are so common that we use them without knowing how they contribute to indoor air pollution. So why is this important and how problematic is reduced indoor air quality?
Understanding Indoor Air Quality
The condition of air in and around a building or structure is known as indoor air quality. IAQ is critical to the health and comfort of people inside the building. Good IAQ produces air that is safer and easier to breathe.
Every home needs good IAQ. This is especially important for the elderly, young children, and those who have weak immune systems. Bad air quality can increase the risks of many health issues, especially pre-existing ones. If someone at home already has respiratory issues and allergies, these are likely to become worse. Low air quality can also increase the risk of developing health problems. This is why there are standards set for indoor air quality that all homes and commercial structures must meet.
The good news is indoor air quality issues can be eliminated. You just need to learn how they occur and what causes them. Let’s take a look at the different household products that reduce the quality of indoor air.
Household Products to Watch Out for
Check the labels of commercial cleaning products and you will find chemicals that are harsh and quite harmful to your health and even to the environment. Many cleaning supplies contain ammonia, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), bleach, and synthetic fragrances that could be released into the air we breathe indoors. These chemicals can also react with other chemicals.
Solution: Choose cleaning products that are more environmentally-friendly. There are manufacturers that offer products that use milder chemicals and natural ingredients to clean effectively. You could also use common household staples such as baking soda and vinegar, which are effective but safe cleaners.
Aerosol spray is kind of hard to avoid. After all, many personal and household products we use are sold in aerosol spray bottles. These include deodorants, hairsprays, paints, fixatives, fragrances, shaving creams, and a number of hair treatments. There are even cooking oils that are sold in aerosol spray cans. The issue with aerosol is that it contains chemicals such as propellants (butane, isobutane, and propane), silicone, and artificial additives to add flavor and color.
Aerosol sprays can propel very tiny liquid droplets into the air. Since these droplets are likely to contain harmful compounds, they are also unsafe to use. The polluting agents in aerosol sprays were actually outed more than 30 years ago as harmful to both human health and the environment.
Solution: Limit the use of aerosol sprays and use products that come in other forms. Some fragrances, for example, come in ordinary spray bottles, roll-ons, or cream form.
Fresh paint is not really pleasant to the nose and there is a reason for this. Many paint products contain VOCs which have carbon compounds that could vaporize once the paint is applied. When these carbon compounds are released into the air, they will react with certain elements that are already present. This reaction produces ozone, which contributes to air pollution – the same pollution that you will be breathing indoors.
Solution: Use low-VOC paint products or look for brands that produce zero-VOC. You will be protecting your lungs in the process.
Air fresheners are a boon on days when the house smells stale. They may seem harmless enough, thanks to their sweet scents. However, air fresheners actually contain harmful ingredients. Certain types and brands of air fresheners contain over 100 types of chemicals that could react with indoor air. Air fresheners can also trigger allergic reactions in some people, causing them to sneeze or cough. Direct skin contact with the mist could also cause irritation, redness, and itchiness.
Air fresheners may seem like a paradox because they are produced to “freshen” indoor spaces but they do actually contain synthetic fragrances, propellants, and a number of additives that reduce indoor air quality.
Solution: Improve indoor air quality by using products that have only natural ingredients to eliminate bad smells.
Good ol’ candles are another common household item that could affect the air you breathe. Most commercial candles contain paraffin, which is a petroleum by-product. It can also be derived from coal oil and shale. Candles are generally harmless until they are lighted. When the wax melts with the heat, it could release carcinogenic compounds. In fact, one study has linked fumes from paraffin wax candles to lung cancer and asthma.
Solution: Stay away from paraffin wax candles and choose natural candles made from beeswax instead.
Dry cleaning processes rely on a solvent to remove dirt, sweat, stains, and unpleasant smells. These solvents can be harmful when inhaled, especially by people who have health issues with the kidneys, heart, liver, or lungs. The most dangerous compound used to dry clean clothes is perchloroethylene or PERC, which is a VOC. Prolonged exposure to this compound can lead to more worrisome health issues.
Solution: If there are some clothes that have to be dry-cleaned, do not bring them inside the house from the dry cleaners. Make sure to unwrap them and hang them outside for a few hours or overnight. It is also a good idea to have your clothes dry-cleaned only at reputable cleaners. If your clothes come out of the shop with a strong smell, ask the dry cleaner to fix it. The strong smell is likely from the strong chemicals that the cleaners used.
It is important that you learn how to manage indoor air quality to ensure that the air you breathe is clean and safe. Keeping the air clean is also a big help to the environment, especially at a time when air pollution is one of the major issues we face. Being aware of the type of household products you use can make a big difference over the long term. By taking an active role in maintaining indoor air quality, you also ensure that your indoor space is safe and comfortable.
Call McAllister Energy For Superior Indoor Air Quality Solutions
Maintaining indoor air quality is an important concern for everyone, regardless of whether you stay at home or work in an office building. If you have been having trouble with the quality of air at home or at work, it may be time to consider professional help. At McAllister Energy, we look at indoor air quality as one of our top priorities. We know that with every heating and cooling equipment we install, we need to look at how it will impact indoor air. This is why we make sure that our clients are well-informed about the factors that affect the air they breathe.
McAllister Energy has been the leading HVAC services provider in Camden County, New Jersey for many years. We require our technicians to have NATE certification to ensure that they can offer only the best services to our clients. If you want excellent support, you can rely on us to perform a range of services, from installations and replacements to tune-ups and repairs. As your comfort and safety partner, we make sure that we work within the requirements you set. If you have concerns and want to know how to breathe safer, cleaner air, call McAllister Energy today and ask about our in-home estimate at no cost.