If you’re at home right now, sit down and take a deep breath.   At this very moment, there are approximately two million nine hundred twenty pounds of airborne toxins traveling the jet stream around the globe.  Don’t bother locking the doors and shutting the windows.  Although outdoor air pollution is a serious global threat, it’s the air inside where we should be most concerned.

Every home is prone to pollutants and understanding what they are, how they thrive and how you can reduce exposure are some of the most important steps you can take right now.  For instance, if you know how and where mold spores grow – you can take some immediate now before someone in your home is affected.

According to the EPA: “Biological pollutants are or were living organisms. They promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost from work or school, and of doctor and hospital visits. Some can even damage surfaces inside and outside your house. Biological pollutants can travel through the air and are often invisible.”

Indoor air pollution can affect people in different ways.  Some of the symptoms can be relatively minor like a runny nose, itchy eyes, and other allergy-like symptoms.  However, children, seniors or people suffering from asthma may react severely to biological pollutants –some pollutants, like chemical emissions in carpets, can trigger an asthma attack.

Although it may be late for spring cleaning, it’s never too late to examine your home and eliminate some of the most common pollutants for which you have some control and take steps to keep your house clean and dry, your chances for being affected by pollutants will diminish.

Here is a list of common biological pollutants that can be found in the home, according to the EPA:

  • Radon
  • Environmental Tobacco Smoke
  • Biologicals
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Organic Gases
  • Respirable Particles
  • Formaldehyde
  • Pesticides
  • Asbestos
  • Lead

 These elements can also produce pollutants

  • Animal Dander (minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin)
  • Dust Mite and Cockroach parts·
  • Infectious agents (bacteria or viruses)
  • Pollen

 Where Can You Find These Pollutants?

  • Dirty air conditioner
  • Old mattresses
  • Water damaged furnishings or carpets
  • Ventilation: heating and cooling
  • Exhaust fans in bathrooms
  • Stains on walls or carpets could mean there are pollutants

The EPA recommends the following:

  • Throw out mattresses, wicker furniture, straw baskets and more that have been water damaged or contain mold. These cannot be recovered.
  • Discard any permanently water-damaged furnishings
  • Look for rotted building materials which may suggest moisture or water damage – as pollutants and mold can grow there.  Fix these – hire a professional to help you as needed
  • Make sure you have exhaust fans or vents in bathrooms and kitchens.  The EPA says it is best if vents are outside and not in attics or crawl spaces.
  • Look for mold growth throughout the house, including attics, basements, and crawlspaces and around the foundation.  

There have been a number of recent advancements in indoor air and air purification technology that can help homeowners who are concerned about indoor air pollution.  Be sure to look for a system that has been scientifically tested and recommended by experienced HVAC professionals.