I find it strange that people worry more about the water that they drink than the air that they breathe. If you think about it we take in a lot more air than we do water and the possibility of becoming sick from some type of contaminant is ever present. Almost everyone buys bottled water and uses a water filter in their homes but how many people have an air filtration system installed? I’m just as guilty of this as everyone else and I believe that part of the reason is because providing clean water to people has become a huge industry in this country and we are constantly reminded by advertising and marketing strategies.
Think about your local food store. Consider how many different bottled waters there are to choose from and how easy it is to just pick up a case or two while your food shopping. Every convenience store that we visit has bottled water available as well but where do we buy fresh air? There are many air filtration systems on the market today that we can buy for our home or office but for some reason they just haven’t “caught on”. Maybe most people really feel that it’s just not important enough to spend their hard earned money on or maybe, just maybe most of us are just too busy to even think about it.
In today’s technically savvy world we are constantly bombarded with information about everything and sometimes it just becomes too much to process. Perhaps someday the air quality will become so bad that we will be forced to do something about it whether we like it or not but until then I suspect that little will change. In either case here are the 10 most common air pollutants that we should at least be aware of for the sake of our health as well as our loved ones. If you would like more information you can visit the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) website for more detailed information.
1. Radon - a deadly gas that can be present in any home. It’s wise to test for the presence of radon in your home using either a DIY test kit or a local professional.
2. Environmental Tobacco Smoke – this one’s easy to avoid. Don’t smoke or allow anyone else to smoke in your home. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
3. Biological Contaminates – this includes pollen, dander, mold, etc. The best way to prevent this type of pollution in your home is to keep it clean and dry. Mold is especially dangerous to health and should be treated by a professional if discovered.
4. Household Cleaners and Other Chemicals – this includes everything from bleach to empty paint cans. You already know that many chemicals in your home are dangerous and that does not only meaning touching them or ingesting them, it means breathing them as well. Follow all warning labels carefully and always keep these items stored out of the reach of children.
5. Pesticides – naturally you know how dangerous pesticides can be when applied in your home. Although it may sometimes be a “necessary evil” at least be sure to ventilate your home well after using these types of chemicals.
6. Stoves, Heaters, Fireplaces and Chimneys – deadly exhaust fumes are always being emitted by these and proper ventilation is extremely important. A professional inspection once a year is money very well spent.
7. Formaldehyde – this extremely dangerous chemical is present in different household items, most commonly pressed wood products such as inexpensive furniture. In the event of a fire it will be present in the smoke and is highly toxic. Consider what you buy before making a decision and at least be aware of this threat.
8. Asbestos – we all know about the cancer causing health risks of asbestos. If you discover that it is present in your home insulation having it replaced with a more modern alternative might be worth considering. Although this can be expensive it is something worthy of the cost. Be especially attentive in older homes.
9. Lead Paint – yes, believe it or not there are still many older homes with lead paint. As with the asbestos this is extremely dangerous for all persons living in the home and needs to be removed by a professional. Doing this yourself is not a good idea.
10. Carpet – today hard wood floors are very popular and one of those reasons is due to the health risks associated with wall-to-wall carpet. Carpet is known to release chemicals into the air that are bad for our health, especially our respiratory system. If you are having new carpet installed it’s best to ask the installing company to “air out” the carpet in a well ventilated area before installation and to use what is known as low emitting adhesives if required. Schedule the installation when the premise is not occupied if at all possible keep the area well ventilated for up to 72 hours after installation. This is the time when most of the chemicals will be released. Finally, be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper carpet maintenance.