According to the EPA, we spend up to 90% of our lives indoors. Not only that, but recent studies are revealing that our indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air in even the most industrialized cities.
That’s a staggering claim.
Even if only partially true, the reality is that the air you breathe inside your own home is a major building block of your overall health. For good or for bad.
We see the same story over and over again. People learn to live with and accept the symptoms they experience because they can not identify a specific cause. Fatigue, headaches, sneezing & itchy eyes… the list goes on. These conditions just become a part of life and either 1) no one realizes that there is an identifiable cause or 2) it is assumed that nothing can be done.
Indoor Air Pollution contributes heavily to otherwise unexplained symptoms and often there are practical steps that can be taken to improve the situation.
What are symptoms of Indoor Air Pollution?
There are many potential pollutants and many possible symptoms. Each pollutant impacts each person differently.
In some cases, only a single person in a household may show signs of irritation. In more that one case, we have helped a skeptical spouse see that their partner is not crazy… they are simply experiencing a different reaction to the same environment!
All that to say there is not a clear-cut list of symptoms. However, here are some of the more common complaints that can be attributed to poor indoor air quality:
- Unexplained tiredness
- Asthma/difficulty breathing
- Runny nose, itchy eyes, & other allergy reactions
- Cronic cough
- Skin irritation
That is just getting started. We work with people that experience a wide variety of symptoms and have eliminated all medical possibilities. Many times the answer is found in their indoor environment. Toxic mold and other pollutants can present in many ways.
What things pollute indoor air?
Indoor air becomes polluted when a gas or particle is released inside a home. If ventilation is insufficient to draw enough outdoor air in to dilute the irritant, exposure levels increase. High temperatures and humidity levels can increase the concentration levels of some pollutants.
Some of the most common air pollutants found in a home are:
- Mold & mildew
- Seasonal allergins
- Animal Dander
- Dust mites
- Tobacco smoke
- Emissions from stoves, heaters, & fireplaces
- Household chemicals
- Asbestos & Lead
How do I know if I have a mold problem?
Sometimes mold problems are obvious. If you can see mold growing on the surfaces of your walls or inside cabinets… you have a mold problem.
Other times mold growth is present, but not a serious problem. Bathrooms often show signs of mold due to high humidity, but these issues can be corrected easily with basic cleaning. Crawlspaces typically have at least some mold growth present. Sometimes the issue is severe and can lead to deterioration of floor joists and contamination of inside air, other times crawlspace mold is light and presents no real threat.
Hidden mold growth is the most difficult to identify. Mold can grow unnoticed inside walls, under floors, and in air ducts. Spores reproduce and are introduced into the air you breathe every day. This scenario is a common cause of indoor air pollution.
You may have a hidden mold issue if you notice any of the following:
- Allergic symptoms that you can not explain
- Musty odors
- Discoloration or signs of water
In addition, if you have ever had water damage or plumbing leaks, it is a good idea to check the area for mold growth.
How do I know if my problem is something other than mold?
9 times out of 10 people start a conversation by saying they have a “mold problem”. Sometimes that turns out to be the case, and sometimes it does not.
The truth is most likely that you are not feeling well and you have a good idea that something in your home is the reason. You don’t know exactly what it is, and you aren’t sure what else to call it… so you go with mold.
The best way to determine if you have Indoor Air Pollution is to start with a simple evaluation of your health and your home. Do you have symptoms you cannot explain medically? Have you recently completed home repairs or maintenance? Is your home aging and susceptible to water leaks? Are your HVAC systems routinely serviced and inspected? Have you introduced new chemicals into your home through cleaners or detergents?
The best advice we can give is to follow your gut. If you don’t feel well, and you have a suspicion that something in your environment is the cause… keep digging until you have an answer.
With a little head scratching, you may be able to find an issue on your own. You may also need to seek professional help evaluating your indoor environment.
How do I figure out what my home’s air quality is?
An Indoor Air Quality Assesment is what will truly get to the root of your issues.
Our Indoor Air Quality Assessments create a comprehensive picture of your interaction with your indoor environment and give you actionable insights for improving your health.
Every IAQ Assessment begins with a conversation. An expert inspector will sit down and get to know you. They will figure out as much as they can about the symptoms you and your family may be experiencing. They will as questions about what you are feeling, your travel patterns, and the history of your home.
The next phase of the assessment moves to the physical environment. The inspector will start in the basement or crawlspace and work their way to the roof. They will evaluate the entire structure, all mechanical systems, and the surrounding landscape.
Finally, the inspector will compile a detailed report showing pictures and explaining what was found. They will note any areas where problems were discovered and detail recommended steps to correct the issues. These results will become your protocol to either complete on our own, bid with other contractors, or execute with Branch Environmental.