Which Types of Indoor Air Pollutants Have The Most Impact on Your Health?

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Updated on Oct 23, 2023
5 min read
Which Types of Indoor Air Pollutants Have The Most Impact on Your Health?

There are several air pollutants that make their way inside your Northern California house. This is true even when your HVAC system has a filter. The air filter may not be of a high rating or there may not be enough air flow. There are hundreds of different pollutants in indoor air. However, there are only a few you need to worry about the most. This post will talk about different indoor pollutants and the impact they have on your health.

Indoor Pollutants

Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim is deemed the father of toxicology. Dr. Brett Singer, a reputed modern toxicologist, came up with the following list regarding few of the most worrisome indoor pollutants:

  • Particulate matter
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Ozone (O3)
  • Gas-phase organics (a.k.a., volatile organic compounds, or VOCs)
  • Mold
  • Secondhand smoke from cigarettes (SHS)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • Allergens
  • Bioeffluents (including carbon dioxide)
  • Radon
  • Viruses

Which Pollutants Impact Health the Most?

Singer made a graph regarding how different pollutants impacted humans using a quantity called Disability Adjusted Life Year (DALY). At the bottom of this graph is chromium at about 10-1 or 0.1. PM2.5 tops the list at 103 or 1,000. This means that PM2.5 is more worrisome than chromium when it comes to indoor pollutants.

However, you cannot expect every household to be affected in the same way. For instance, houses with smokers who smoke indoors will have secondhand smoke as a primary risk.

Steps to Take to Improve Indoor Air Quality

There are several steps you can take to improve the indoor air quality index in your house.

1. PM2.5.

Make sure you always have the bath fans and kitchen range hood running whenever you do something that may generate particulate matter. You should also use a mechanical ventilation system to filter the air you bring into your home.

2. Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke is a dangerous pollutant to have inside the house. As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are over 7,000 toxic chemicals present in tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous if you have children or elderly living in the house. You should ask all smokers in the family to refrain from lighting their cigarettes inside the house.

3. Mold and moisture

You should address all moisture problems within the house to ensure that everything stays dry. You should also have the right facilities in place to ensure that wet things in the house get dry quickly. Moisture can result in a variety of problems.

4. Radon

Get your home tested for radon. It is the second highest cause of lung cancer as per studies. If the results come back with high levels of radon, you should think about getting your home remediated for it.

5. NO2

You should not use combustion appliances that are unvented. It is possible that the nice looking gas log fireplace without a vent is making you and everyone else in the family sick.

6. Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning in houses is more common than you think. Your standard UL-rated CO detector won’t sound an alert until the levels become dangerously high. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have significantly high carbon monoxide levels in the house for days on end.

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