Winter is here again, with long nights and short days. With the snow falling and a drop in outdoor temperatures, we seek the comfort and warmth of the indoors. Unfortunately, indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. In fact, air contaminants are five times higher in indoor than outdoor air.

When we close our doors and windows, indoor air pollution is compounded in the cold winter months. This traps pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, dust, and mold. It’s also worsened if we use heaters that rely on fossil fuels. Plus, most of us spend more time indoors when it’s freezing outside. As a result, this puts us at higher risk of developing air pollution-related illnesses such as pneumonia, lung cancer, COPD, and asthma, among others. Here, we will look at seven possible health consequences of bad indoor air quality and how to protect yourself and your family.

Common Indoor Air Pollutants and How to Prevent Them

Some indoor air pollutants, such as dust, are visible to the naked eye. However, some, such as carbon monoxide, are not so obvious. Other common indoor air pollutants include pet dander, soot and smoke, and allergens like pollen and mold spores.

Ozone can also form indoors when sunlight interacts with certain existing air pollutants. While ozone is beneficial when in the upper atmosphere, it is harmful when inhaled. It’s a principal component of smog.

You can take a number of measures to protect yourself and your family. The first line of defense is regular cleaning. Electrostatic cleaning cloths trap particulates instead of stirring them up. Regular vacuuming is critical if you have carpet, rugs, or upholstered furniture. Invest in a vacuum with a HEPA filter. It is also important to consider what cleaning products, air fresheners, and solvents you bring into the home. Many popular products emit VOCs and other irritating particulates. Look for natural, no-VOC, or low-VOC products.

Changing the air filter regularly also helps improve your indoor air quality. We carry a wide variety of filters that can capture even very fine particulates. If you have pets or household members with allergies, asthma, or other respiratory sensitivities, you might want to change or clean the filter every month.

The best way to significantly reduce indoor air pollutants is to invest in one of our indoor air quality products. Whole-house air purification and filtration systems are installed within your existing HVAC system. These go a long way to keep you and your family members healthy and happy.

Now, we’ll discuss some health problems that can be caused or worsened by poor indoor air quality.

1. Asthma Attacks

Many experience worsened asthma symptoms in winter. Air particulates can irritate and aggravate the respiratory tract. Exposure to indoor pollutants puts you at greater risk of asthma attacks.

2. Eye and Nose Irritation

Indoor air is typically much drier in winter. Breathing dry air can cause discomfort in your nose and eyes and can cause redness and itchiness. You can also experience eye and nose irritation from volatile organic compounds (VOC), allergens, and other particulates. During the winter, your heating system circulates these pollutants with the heated air. As a result, you inhale them consistently, irritating your eyes and nose. It is advisable to ensure that your home is well-ventilated to avoid such health issues. Also, consider whole-home humidifiers.

3. Lung Cancer

Tobacco smoke is a major source of indoor air pollution. This doesn’t just affect the smoker. Second-hand smoke can affect anyone who enters your home. Evidence shows that smoke from tobacco is a major cancer-causing pollutant. You are also predisposed to cancer from indoor pollutants if you work or live in a congested space where there is little or no ventilation at all.

We recommend that you ensure that your living and working indoor spaces are free from tobacco smoke. If you have to smoke, do it outdoors where there is sufficient air. This will prevent the contaminated air from circulating throughout your home and reduce your susceptibility to cancer-laden contaminants.

4. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Poor indoor quality can put you at greater risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis. This respiratory condition complicates your health by blocking the free flow of air into your lungs. This prevents your heart from functioning as optimally as it should.

A severe case of COPD will require you to visit a doctor. The situation can escalate to fatality levels if the contingencies are not attended to. If anyone in your home has COPD, you should pay particular attention to the quality of your indoor air.

5. Heart Disease

Leaving your indoor air unclean predisposes you to the risk of heart diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia). Small particulates in the air can travel to your blood vessels, resulting in inflammation. Over time, through constant exposure to these particulates, problems with heart disease begin knocking.

If your home is located near factories and busy streets, you are at greater risk of developing heart problems. Impure outdoor air gets to your home every time you open your door and via drafts. These contaminants are dangerous and can severely affect you, even with short-term exposure.

6. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. It has many possible causes, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide gases in the air. When you suspect your indoor air quality is compromised, look for symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, and chest pains. These symptoms could indicate that you have pneumonia. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

Older people and children are the most affected members of your family. Moreover, older adults may not even experience fever. Evidence suggests that pneumonia is the leading culprit when it comes to childhood deaths globally. You’re at greater risk of developing pneumonia when exposed to indoor air pollutants for a long time.

7. Autoimmune Conditions

Air pollution may compromise your immune system, which causes it to attack your body. The condition damages the tissues and may result in lung and heart inflammation.

According to researchers, indoor air pollution is the leading cause of immune responses that mainly affect the lungs. Consequently, it triggers some autoimmune conditions. An attack response is triggered when particulates from air pollution get into the lungs.

Improve Indoor Air Quality Today and Stay Healthy

Understanding the health implications of bad indoor air during the winter and the solution to these problems can put you closer to improving your health and your family’s. Regular cleaning and limiting products that emit VOCs can help improve air quality. Our HVAC technicians can recommend ways of improving your indoor air quality, including effective filters and filtration systems. We also offer air conditioning and heating services in Rockport and the surrounding areas. Call us 24/7 for emergency repair and maintenance of your HVAC system to ensure clean and pure indoor air.

Contact Sigwald Service Co. today for more information.

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