Indoor air quality during winter
Indoor air quality is often much worse than outdoor air. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that levels of indoor air pollutants can be two to five times higher than outdoor pollution levels. Given that most Americans spend an estimated 90 percent of their time indoors, indoor air quality has a significant impact on our daily lives. In addition, indoor air pollutants are major allergy and asthma triggers.
Why does winter make indoor air quality worse
Homes are built to be energy efficient (and therefore cost-effective) by retaining heat during the winter and keeping the heat out during the summer. Winter weather prompts homeowners to seal up any cracks in the insulation tightly that may allow cold drafts into the home. This in turn protects the home from any fresh air and increases the concentrations of both allergens and pollutants in the home.
Sources of pollutants in the home
Pollutants in the home come from a variety of sources. The first step to making sure your family has the cleanest air possible is to know the source of the pollutants. Here is a list of common sources of indoor air pollution:
Combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal and wood. Any household appliances that use any of these fuels can lead to indoor air pollution. These devices include wood stoves, fireplaces, water heaters, dryers and stoves. It is essential to ensure that these appliances are well maintained and properly adjusted so that they do not release dangerous levels of pollution into the home. Heating systems themselves are one type of combustion source. (Another reason indoor air pollution is worse in winter.)
Building materials and furnishings, from insulation to carpeting to cupboards or particleboard furniture. The types of pollutants these items may harbor or release in the home are varied, including volatile organic compounds, molds, and dust mites.
cleaning and home maintenance products and personal care products; Air fresheners, for example, release pollutants continuously.
Hobby or home improvement activities including painting, varnishing, sanding, soldering, using adhesives and more. Basically, if it's producing fumes, it's not a good idea to breathe it in or fill your home with it, especially when your home is hermetically sealed against the winter cold - and healthy circulation of fresh air.
External sources such as radon, pollen, lead and more. Radon gas is found in the soil where the natural decomposition of uranium occurs and can leach into the home. People or pets may track pesticides, pollen, lead, and other outdoor pollutants into the home, where their levels are concentrated.
Pets - Animal dander and other particles from fur or feathered pets are major factors in exacerbating allergies and asthma in sensitive individuals. As people spend more time indoors, pets are also out during bad weather.
Common household pollutants
The next step in making sure your family is protected from household pollution is to learn about the pollutants so you can know how to deal with them. Below is a list of the most common allergens and pollutants that affect indoor air quality.
Mold and Mildew - When windows are closed tightly against cold air, steam from the bathroom and kitchen, as well as other types of moisture in the home, can build up. Mold and mildew reproduce through spores that are airborne and easy to inhale.
Pet Dander - Because it is so light and so small, pet dander is one of the most irritating and hard-to-remove allergens. Indoor concentrations are particularly high during the winter when pets, as well as people, spend more time indoors.
Dust mites - As more time is spent indoors during the winter, the concentration of dust mite food - shedding human skin cells - increases, as does dust mites. Dust mites are found wherever dust is present, including household surfaces, upholstered furniture, curtains, carpets, and especially bedding.
Pollen - Although it is less of a problem in winter, there are plants that flower in winter where pollen can be traced indoors. In addition, fluctuations in the weather may cause plants to flower earlier than usual.
Biological pollutants - In addition to mold, pollen, dust mites, and animal dander, there are germs, viruses, and other bacteria in the home ISO.
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), or secondhand smoke, is a major indoor air pollutant.
Formaldehyde is one of the main volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and is often found in adhesives or other bonding agents found in carpets, upholstery, particleboard, and plywood.
Many VOCs - In addition to formaldehyde, many other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are found in cleaning products, air fresheners, beauty products, laundry products, and more. The release of VOC gases from household items (such as clean curtains or other clothing, or particle board furniture or cabinets) is also a source of VOCs.