Indoor Air Pollution And What To Do About It

Most people spend more time indoors than outdoors, especially during the winter months. Chicago winters are long and harsh, so natives to the area may spend even more time indoors than those in other parts of the country. 

With so much time spent inside, it’s important to consider the quality of the air we breathe while in our homes and workplaces.

What Is Indoor Air Pollution?

When you think of air pollution, you may think only about pollutants in the outdoor air such as vehicle and factory emissions or smog. However, indoor air also has pollutants floating around. Any substance with harmful effects on the environment or health of people is considered a pollutant. Although you can’t always see them, toxic gases or particles can be contaminating your indoor air.

Why Is Indoor Air Pollution a Problem?

Indoor pollution can cause several health risks, either immediate or long-term. Some symptoms that affected individuals may notice immediately after exposure are eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. Those with preexisting medical conditions such as asthma or allergies may have aggravated or worsened symptoms. Some people are more sensitive to pollutants than others, so poor air quality can go unnoticed. Also, because symptoms overlap with colds and other illnesses, it’s often challenging to determine if they are caused by something else. This is why it is important to pay attention to when and where the symptoms occur.

If you determine that symptoms developed due to poor air quality, the best solution is to first leave the contaminated area. Then, it’s important to identify the source and fix the problem. Sometimes effects are worsened by problems in the HVAC system or because of indoor moisture problems.

It’s possible for some health issues caused by poor air quality to not present themselves for years. More serious diseases are caused by long periods of exposure to polluted air. This is typical if inhabitants of a polluted space are unaware that the air quality in their home or business is low. For this reason, it’s important to have your air quality routinely checked.

What Causes Indoor Air Pollution?

There are many sources of indoor air pollution, including tobacco (from smokers), mold due to excessive moisture, chemicals from cleaning or hobbies, formaldehyde from new products, asbestos-containing insulation (when it deteriorates), gases such as radon or carbon monoxide, fireplace smoke, and allergens (pet dander and pollen). If your home or business has inadequate ventilation, these pollutants can accumulate to high concentrations and remain in the air for a long period of time.

Although cleaning your home by vacuuming floors and dusting furniture can keep many pollutants at bay, they can remain in the air unnoticed, and your indoor air may not be as clean as you think.

Recommended Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

  • Have your home’s air quality inspected. HVAC professionals can conduct an audit of your home to ensure that the proper amount of air exchanges are happening each hour. They will also assess your entire HVAC system and make specific recommendations to improve your indoor air quality (IAQ) based on their findings.
  • Remove toxins from your home. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) like paint, spray paint, cleaners, pesticides, etc. should all be stored in a garage or shed–not inside your home. 
  • Have your carpet professionally cleaned.  Even if you take care to remove shoes before walking on your home’s carpeted areas and you routinely vacuum, there can still be dirt, bacteria, and other pollutants lurking in the fibers of the carpet. A professional cleaning will take care of that.
  • Have your home checked for mold if excessive moisture is present. Mold is sneaky and can grow on just about any material or surface. Some molds cause no problems, while others can be quite toxic. If you notice any sign of mold, immediately hire an expert to inspect and remediate the problem.

McMahon Services Can Help

McMahon Services can take care of many of your needs that will help assess and improve the air quality in your home or business. We have expert technicians in carpet cleaning, heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems, and mold remediation. Our crew can help remove any harmful toxins that are contaminating your indoor air and provide fresher, cleaner air for all inhabitants to breathe.

If you live in the greater Chicago, Illinois area–Arlington Heights, Berwyn, Des Plaines, Evanston, Mount Prospect, Grayslake, Mundelein, Libertyville, Oak Park, Palatine, Wheaton, Naperville, Waukegan, Schaumburg, and Skokie–and want to improve your air quality, contact McMahon Services and we’ll let you know how we can help.