How Poor Indoor Air Quality Can Impact Your Health
Few people realize just how many pathogens and contaminants lurk in the air around us each and every day. From factories and automobiles to flowers and acquaintances, virtually everything in our environment gives off potentially harmful particles. Though we’re all growing accustomed to wearing masks to protect ourselves in public these days, the air in your home may be just as unhealthy as that outdoors if not more so.
At AllergyGuard®, we’re dedicated to helping everyone breathe easier in their homes. Our NanoScreen™ technology is designed to block harmful pollutants and allergens, so they stay outside where they belong. We know just how detrimental poor indoor air quality can be to people’s health, and our team is here to help eliminate the dangers.
Looking at Common Indoor Contaminants and Their Effects on Your Health
Home is supposed to be the one place where you can feel safe, secure, and comfortable. Many people are surprised to learn that the very air inside their homes may detract from those amenities we so often take for granted, though.
Billions of dangerous particles could be floating around in the air you’re breathing right now without you even realizing it. They could also be diminishing your well-being, weakening your immunity, contributing to existing illnesses, and leaving you vulnerable to more serious health issues.
Allergens in Abundance
Based on the latest reports, more than 50 million Americans suffer from serious seasonal allergies. At least 30 percent of people are allergic to cats and dogs although many of them have pets in their homes regardless of their negative reactions to them. Of course, pet hair and dander only make up a fraction of the allergens that could be inundating your home right now.
Pollen from countless types of plants also tends to find its way inside. On top of that, you could be breathing in waste from dust mites, dead skin cells, cockroach byproducts, and dirt from the outdoors. Mold and mildew spores from both outside and inside sources may also be filtering through your home.
Rodents’ hair, dander, and feces are known to cause allergic reactions, too. They may be hiding in your attic or crawlspace even if you haven’t seen them in the main living areas of your home. Those are only the most common allergens people contend with. Numerous others are often found indoors as well.
How Allergens Can Influence Your Health
If you suffer from allergies, you’re probably well aware of the sneezing, stuffiness, runny noses, coughing, itchy and watery eyes, and burning nasal passages all those particles can cause. Those allergens may also bring about breathing difficulties and respiratory infections. They’re particularly dangerous for people who suffer from asthma and can easily lead to medical emergencies.
In some cases, allergens can cause other types of reactions, such as skin irritation. This may include simple rashes along with eczema and other problems. Some people have also reported blisters as a result of allergic dermatitis. Broken blisters and patches of skin inflammation can even become infected in some instances.
Plenty of Pollutants
Allergens and their effects are serious issues, but they’re only one piece of the puzzle. Millions of pollutants also invade homes these days. Indoor air pollution comes from numerous sources, some of which are right there in your home with you.
Carbon monoxide is one of the most common indoor air pollutants. It comes from vehicles passing by on the roadways as well as nearby factories. Your furnace or fireplace, gas-fueled appliances, and space heaters can also generate a great deal of carbon monoxide. If anyone in your family smokes indoors, that’s another significant source of carbon monoxide.
In minor amounts, carbon monoxide may only cause mild fatigue. Moderate concentrations may lead to blurry vision, confusion, and reduced blood flow to the heart. High concentrations of carbon monoxide can cause extreme dizziness, nausea, headaches, and a lack of coordination. Those with preexisting health conditions are more vulnerable to its effects. Ongoing exposure can be fatal.
Nitrogen oxide is produced when nitrogen and oxygen molecules come together under just the right circumstances. Nitrogen and oxygen exist naturally in the air, but you don’t have to worry about them spontaneously meeting one another and contaminating your indoor air. Harmful nitrogen oxide gas comes from combustion engines and power plants. It also commonly wafts into homes from agricultural products, like fertilizers.
Like the many allergens in the air, nitrogen oxide exposure may lead to frequent asthma attacks as well as respiratory difficulties and infections. It may also impair your senses of smell and taste. Over time, it’ll increase your risk of developing chronic lung disease and other serious respiratory conditions.
You can’t see, smell, or taste nitrogen oxide, and its effects are often slow and subtle. If you notice your furniture seems to be fading more quickly than it should, this may be a visible sign that nitrogen oxide is invading your home.
Pesticides and Fungicides
Most people only use pesticides and fungicides inside their homes in moderate amounts when absolutely necessary. That being said, they don’t have to be used in your home to cause problems. When those products are used on your lawn or garden, they can easily drift or be tracked indoors. If you live near a farm or agricultural site, you may be at a higher risk of exposure to dangerous concentrations of fungicides and pesticides.
Being exposed to high concentrations of those chemicals is known to cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat as well as nausea, dizziness, weakness, and severe headaches at the very least. It can also lead to liver and kidney damage and negatively affect the nervous system. Pesticides and fungicides can also affect the endocrine system. In turn, this could lead to growth and development issues, mood disorders, and hormonal imbalances to name a few possible problems.
Yet another indoor air pollutant is formaldehyde. This is the same substance used in embalming fluid and for preserving certain medical specimen among other purposes. It’s also found in quite a few household items with the most common being various types of wood furniture. Manufacturers use it in adhesives to create plywood, fiberboard, and particleboard. It’s used in some types of fabrics for clothing and upholstery.
When formaldehyde is used in those products, its gases can leach out of them and into the air in your home. Some of formaldehyde’s adverse health effects include respiratory issues, eye irritation, and skin inflammation. It may also cause your nose, eyes, and throat to burn. This substance has been linked to certain types of cancer, too.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are found in numerous household products. These may include adhesives, carpets, paints, stains, cleaners, disinfecting solutions, air fresheners, and even cosmetics. They’re also used in dry-cleaning products, so dry-cleaned clothing is a common source of VOCs in indoor air.
Exposure to VOCs has been found to cause a range of health issues. Irritation of the eyes, throat, and nasal passages is a common side-effect as are headaches and nausea. Severe fatigue, dizziness, and lack of coordination are all symptoms of VOC exposure. These gases are also known to cause various types of cancer.
Millions of Microorganisms
As hazardous as allergens and pollutants are, microorganisms can be even more threatening. These include bacteria, viruses, and fungi, such as mold. Reports show that some of the most microbe-laden items in homes are toothbrush holders, dishcloths and sponges, sink drains, countertops, pet bowls and toys, toilet seats, and doorknobs.
As soon as you clean those items and surfaces, viruses and bacteria begin to grow and multiply on them all over again. On top of that, they come into your home from any number of sources. You can track them in on your shoes or bring them in on purses, backpacks, grocery bags, clothing, and other belongings.
Some of the most dangerous bacteria thriving in people’s homes are staph, salmonella, strep, and E. coli, but there are too many to name. Common viruses include those that cause colds and the flu as well as many stomach bugs. Again, thousands of these microorganisms could come into play.
All those microbes can cause a broad range of negative health effects, including nausea, digestive issues, headaches, sore throats, abdominal pain, and high fevers. These symptoms vary widely in severity, but they can lead to death in more acute cases. This is true even if their victims were otherwise healthy prior to exposure.
Mitigating the Dangers of Poor Indoor Air Quality
While cleaning your home frequently can help reduce the number of microorganisms and allergens in the air, it can also increase the concentration of other indoor contaminants. Using high-quality HVAC filters and changing them as needed goes a long way toward improving indoor air quality from a few angles.
Here at AllergyGuard®, we offer yet another layer of protection. Our window shields provide superior protection against all the pollutants and other contaminants that can enter your home from outside. Though those dangerous particles are known to have negative and potentially severe effects on people’s health, there are plenty of ways to fight them off and keep your family’s air safe and clean.