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Indoor Air Quality Can Be A Problem In Winter

cartoon home with arrows showing air flow

Perhaps when you walk into a room your sense of smell is alerted. There are many reasons why air quality in a home can be offensive – particularly in the winter. Here are some sources of problems to consider.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) refers to the quality of air within and around a building or structure, especially as it affects the health and comfort of building occupants. Sometimes, the effects of air quality are immediate – your eyes may sting, your nose is assaulted – you might even start coughing. Given enough time in a house or office with poor air quality, and you might even experience headaches or dizziness.

Air quality is not to be ignored. In certain circumstances, a person’s health can be affected given long-term exposure. Some air quality problems can cause respiratory disease, heart disease and even cancer. Here’s what to watch out for.

  • Carbon Monoxide. We hear about carbon monoxide poisoning on the TV every once in a while. The results are usually disastrous. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, invisible gas produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. A car with the engine running in a closed garage is a good example of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Radon. At different times, we may be aware of radon gases. It’s a good idea to have a home tested for radon, particularly if the home is older. Radon is an odorless, colorless gas commonly present in low levels and can escape into the air through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes.
  • Nitrogen Dioxide.  NO2 a toxic, corrosive gas, that forms when fossil fuels, such a coal, oil, gas or diesel are burned at high temperatures.
  • Secondhand Smoke. We’ve all heard of the dangers of secondhand smoke – from any tobacco product. It not only can cause a foul odor in the home or office but can be a health hazard for the occupants.
  • Building Materials. Certain materials used in construction can produce dangerous chemicals. Good examples include deteriorating asbestos-containing insulation, newly installed flooring, upholstery, or carpet, and certain pressed wood products
  • Excessive Moisture. You’re probably familiar with the smell of dampness. Though less common in Colorado, excessive moisture, particularly in a basement or crawlspace, can provide a hospitable environment for mold to flourish
  • Cleaning Products. While we all like the smell of a clean home, some products – including those used for household maintenance, personal care, or hobbies – especially noxious.
  • HVAC and Humidifier Systems. These can make the air feel stale, especially in appliances or systems that are older and have not been properly maintained.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

According to the EPA there are three basic strategies available to you for improving IAQ. First, find the source and eliminate it. Second, ventilate the area properly and third, consider adding air cleaners. These strategies generally help the immediate problem, but you should always consult a professional like Restoration 1 to be sure you are doing everything necessary to eliminate your specific problems.

What You Can Do Around The Home Or Office

  • Make sure all combustion appliances are installed correctly and are adequately vented to the outside.
  • Purchase a radon screening kit and hire a professional if the results are above acceptable levels.
  • Eliminate secondhand smoke pollutants by not smoking indoors.
  • Prevent mold by monitoring humidity levels in your home, wiping up spills quickly, and running the kitchen and bathroom fans.
  • Change the batteries in detecting devices regularly.
  • Always provide adequate ventilation when engaging in activities like painting or sanding – or better, perform the activity outside if you can.

For more information, read our article “Remove Those Stinky Odors,” or call Restoration 1 at 720-573-2568.