Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Most Common Sources of Indoor Pollution

The Most Common Sources of Indoor Pollution

The average home traps an array of harmful pollutants inside. Through air exchanger and purification systems, these pollutants can be expelled; however, both systems are reactive solutions. Homeowners should first consider where their pollutants originate and stop them at the source. To help, we’ve identified the most common sources of indoor pollution.

Second-Hand Smoke

Smoking cigarettes, cigars and other substances indoors emits harmful pollutants that linger long after snuffing them out. Second-hand smoke contains thousands of toxins. For example, a burning cigarette releases fumes with benzene, cyanide, ammonia and carbon monoxide, all of which cause health complications with long-term exposure.

Biological Sources

Households with pets have more dander and dust floating around. For those with respiratory sensitivities, not controlling their levels can have serious consequences. Insects, mold and mildew can also pollute the indoors. Unfortunately, such biological sources need an expert’s attention.

Appliances

Gas and wood stoves, furnaces and other heating equipment produce nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. In high concentrations, both chemicals are lethal, but minor symptoms include headaches, fatigue and dizziness. Regular furnace and appliance health checks can avoid aforesaid symptoms. Likewise, installing gas detectors in the home can monitor pollution levels.

Household Cleaners

Cleaning products, especially those in aerosol form, contain harmful chemicals like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These organic gases can come from a bevy of other sources—paints, pesticides, adhesives and even carpets. Prolonged exposure to VOCs can increase people’s risk of health complications like asthma.

Furniture

Just as carpets can introduce new chemicals into the home, furniture finished with special varnishes or fire-retardants give off a lot of chemicals when first placed into the home. That’s what gives off that “new furniture” smell.

How a Humidifier Can Save Your Furniture

How a Humidifier Can Save Your Furniture

A study conducted in 2013, published in the academic journal Plos One, found that a 43 percent increase in humidity drastically decreases the number of airborne germs and viruses in a given environment. With low humidity, researchers noted 70 to 77 percent of viruses could be transmitted orally; whereas, in high humidity, the transmission rate fell to 14 percent.

Because of such findings, when we think of indoor humidity, we often relate it to our own respiratory and epidermal (dreaded dry skin) health. However, low humidity affects much more than just living things. It can also wreak havoc on the furniture in our homes.

How Low Humidity Hurts Wood

Overly dry air can cause wood floors and furnishings to warp, peel or split. This includes musical instruments, pool tables, fine art and other wooden fixtures. Wood is hygroscopic, meaning it acts like a sponge in that it loses or gains moisture based on its environmental conditions.

As wood loses moisture, it begins to contract. Consequently, it grows more brittle. Adding a humidifier to the home can regulate moisture in the air, protecting all wooden furnishings from undergoing significant compositional changes. The more consistent the moisture levels, the less chance of warping or cracking.

Humidity and Indoor Greenery

Interestingly, humidity also affects houseplants. In low humidity conditions, plants sweat out moisture at a faster rate. Since the soil becomes dryer and less nutritious too, the plants cannot reabsorb moisture fast enough. To protect the remaining moisture, plants shutdown their pours and, as a result, the leaves eventually wither and sag.

How Often Should You Replace Your HEPA Filters?

How Often Should You Replace Your HEPA Filters?

HEPA, or High-Efficiency Particle Arrestor, filters trap airborne particles as tiny as 0.3 micrometers in diameter. As air purification systems draw inwards, these filters eliminate any pollutants and contaminates before the machine recirculates the air.

In good condition, HEPA filters can remove 99.97% of airborne particles from an environment. For people with respiratory sensitivities like allergies or asthma, purified air can dramatically decrease their daily symptoms. Even for ordinarily symptom-free people, indoor spaces contain an array of harmful contaminants and pollutants that HEPA filters take care of.

Commercial versus Residential HEPA Applications

Over time, HEPA filters lose their efficacy. In commercial settings, the standard timeframe for replacing a filter is six months. Within homes, some HEPA filters will last up two years. It depends entirely on usage. For instance, filters in portable air purifiers and vacuums—appliances not used daily—get more mileage than those in purification systems connected directly to the HVAC system.

What Happens If You Do Not Replace Your HEPA Filters?

Failing to replace HEPA filters will result in decreased suction power. When filled with too many particles, air cannot pass through the appliance as easily. Consequently, more pollutants will escape back into the environment and the hardware will get overworked. Neglect for too long can even cause the fan to breakdown.