What Causes Indoor Air Problems?
Indoor air pollution sources that release gases or particulate into our air are the main cause of indoor air quality problems in Nebraska homes. Inadequate ventilation can also increase indoor pollutants by not bringing in enough fresh outdoor air. High temperature and humidity can also increase concentrations of air pollutants.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
There are numerous sources of indoor air pollution in Nebraska homes. These include combustion sources such as, gas, wood, and tobacco products. Building materials and furnishings such as asbestos containing insulation, wet floor materials, and case goods of processed wood can impact air quality. Household cleaning products, personal hygiene products and even central air systems can contribute to problems. Not to mention outdoor sources such as radon and pesticides.
Some sources release pollutants more or less continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently.
If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Unless they are built with special mechanical means of ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can “leak” into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes. However, because some weather conditions can drastically reduce the amount of outdoor air that enters a home, pollutants can build up even in homes that are normally considered “leaky”.
How Outdoor Air Enters Buildings?
Outdoor air enters and leaves a house by infiltration and ventilation. Infiltration is where outdoor air flows into the house through openings in the building envelope. Ventilation, natural or mechanical, also brings in outdoor air and removes indoor air.
Immediate Health Effects
Immediate effects may show up after a single exposure or repeated exposures. These include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. Such immediate effects are usually short-term. Sometimes the cure is simply eliminating the person’s exposure to the source of the pollution, if it can be identified. Symptoms of some diseases, including asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and humidifier fever, may also show up soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants.
Long-term Health Effects
Some health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or after long-term exposure. These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.