February 2, 2023
February is the month of love, so while we know love is in the air, do you know what else you and your family could be breathing in in your home? The truth is, with every season there are different contaminants that can make their way into your Marin, Sonoma, or Napa County home, and some of those things can be really bad for you and your family. What’s in your home’s air?
We are going to provide a quick refresher as to what indoor air quality is, what the most common things found in the air in North Bay Area homes are, and things you can do to improve your home’s indoor air quality.
What’s Indoor Air Quality?
Before we can jump into what’s in your home’s air, we think it would be a good idea to cover why that even matters in the first place and what indoor air quality is.
Indoor air quality refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants (EPA). Poor indoor air quality has been linked to continued sickness, reduced productivity, and impaired learning and thought processes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rates poor indoor air quality as an area of major concern, noting that common contaminants, endlessly redistributed by a central air system, can contribute to allergy symptoms and sickness.
Your home’s indoor air quality is important, because it can directly impact the health and well-being of the people who are in your home. There can be short-term and long-term effects. Immediate effects typically are similar to those of colds and other viral infections, while some long-term effects may include respiratory diseases, heart disease, cancer, and more.
What’s in Your Home’s Air?
Every home is different; however, for most homes, there are several things that may be in the air that can lead to your family feeling a general sense of unwell and for it to seem like people in your home are constantly passing a “bug” back and forth (the truth is, they probably are). Below we review some of the most common things that may be in your home’s air.
- Dust Mites: Dust mites occur naturally and can appear in almost all homes. They are very common during the winter months when your furnace is likely running a lot. Eight out of 10 people in the United States are exposed to dust mites (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America). Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that generate some of the most common indoor allergens and can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in lots of people.
- Mold and Mildew: Most people don’t realize they have a mold and mildew issue until they have an indoor air quality test. Mold and mildew are fungi that reproduce and grow “seeds,” called spores that travel through the air. Mold and mildew develop in damp environments with little to no air movement. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions) and irritants. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (EPA).
- Pet Dander: Six out of 10 homes are subject to cat or dog dander. Pet dander is composed of tiny, even microscopic, flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds and other animals with fur or feathers. Animal allergens are carried on small particles that remain airborne and easily attach to surfaces and clothing. People suffering from pet allergies will have symptoms consistent with swollen nasal passages. This includes a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and shortness of breath (American Lung Association).
- Cockroach Allergens: As disturbing as this may sound, cockroaches aren’t just unsightly pests, crawling across your kitchen floor in the middle of the night. They can be an allergy trigger as well. The National Pest Management Association reports that 63% of homes in the United States contain cockroach allergens. In urban areas, that number rises to between 78% and 98% of homes. Cockroach allergy symptoms include: coughing, nasal congestion, skin rash, wheezing, ear infection, and sinus infection (ACAAI).
- Viruses and Bacteria: If it seems like people in your home are constantly getting sick, it may be because viruses and bacteria are living in your home’s air. People, pets, and pests will inevitably bring microbes into your home. In most cases, they are carried by hosts and transferred to others through direct contact rather than the air; however, microbes can also become airborne and spread throughout your home environment. Your heating system may be pumping germs as well as warm air throughout your home.
When love is in the air, the last thing you want to have to worry about is being sick and stuck indoors. There are things you can do to improve your indoor air quality and prevent home allergens to ensure the only thing you and your family are being hit with, during this time of the year, is cupid’s arrow, and not some unwanted illness.
Do you know what’s in your home’s air? If you want to ensure that the air you and are family are breathing every day is safe, Bragg Cooling, Heating & Plumbing can help. We can assess your current IAQ situation by performing a fast and easy air quality test that measures the level of particulate concentration in your air. We will then make recommendations based on our findings.