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Biological Pollutants - Unexpected dangers in your home.

Many people are concerned about outside air pollution, but air pollution can be a problem where you least expect it, which is in your home. Ordinary activities such as cooking, heating, cooling, and cleaning, can cause indoor pollutants in your home. Studies have shown that the air in our homes can be even more polluted than outdoor air. On average, we spend 90 percent of their time indoors and often at home. Breathing clean indoor air can have an important impact on our health. People who are inside a great deal may be at greater risk of developing health problems, or having problems made worse by indoor air pollutants.

Biological pollutants are living organisms such as:

  • Animal Dander
  • Dust Mites
  • Infectious agents (bacteria or viruses)
  • Pollen

Biological pollutants can travel through the air and are often invisible. Conditions that support biological pollutants growth can be found in many locations, such as bathrooms, damp or flooded basements, wet appliances (such as; humidifiers or air conditioners), and even some carpets and furniture. Studies show that as much as 75% of all structures have damp conditions which may encourage the growth and buildup of biological pollutants.

Health Effects Of Biological Pollutants

Biological pollutants promote poor indoor air quality and may be a major cause of days lost from work, school, and or can lead to increased doctor visits. Some people do not experience health reactions from certain biological pollutants, while others may experience one or more of the following reactions:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itching
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

The following is information that can help determine whether your health problems may be related to biological pollution

  • Does anyone in the family have frequent headaches, fevers, itchy watery eyes, a stuffy nose, dry throat, or a cough?
  • Does anyone complain of feeling tired or dizzy all the time? Is anyone wheezing or having difficulties breathing on a regular basis?
  • Did these symptoms appear after you moved to a new or different home?
  • Do the symptoms disappear when you go to school or the office or go away on a trip, and return when you come back?
  • Have you recently remodeled your home or done any energy conservation work, such as installing insulation, storm windows, or weather stripping? Did your symptoms occur during or after these activities?
  • Does your home feel humid? Can you see moisture on the windows or on other surfaces, such as walls and ceilings?
  • What is the usual temperature in your home? Is it very hot or cold?
  • Have you recently had water damage?
  • Is your basement wet or damp?
  • Is there any obvious mold or mildew?
  • Does any part of your home have a musty or moldy odor?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Do your house plants show signs of mold?
  • Do you have air conditioners or humidifiers that have not been properly cleaned?

What You Can Do About Biological Pollutants

Self-Inspection: A Walk Through Your Home

Two major factors help create conditions for biological pollutants to grow; Organic material (food source) and constant moisture.
Organic Material (food source) include:

  • Dust
  • Paper & Cardboard
  • Wood
  • Wallboard, and
  • Insulation

Moisture (source) includes:

  • Air-conditioning units
  • Basements, attics, and crawlspaces
  • Bathrooms
  • Carpets
  • Heating and air-conditioning ducts
  • Humidifiers and dehumidifiers
  • Refrigerator drip pans

TIPS For Controlling Biological Pollutants

Control Moisture:

  • Fix leaks and seepage in the basement, If water is entering the house from the outside,
  • Install a sealed moisture vapor barrier over dirt crawlspaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside
  • Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates, to reduce moisture in the air.
  • Pay special attention to carpet on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow.

Clean Surfaces

  • Clean moist surfaces, such as showers and kitchen counters
  • Remove mold from walls, ceilings, floors, and paneling. Do not simply cover mold with paint, stain, varnish, or a moisture-proof sealer, as it may resurface.
  • Replace moldy shower curtains, or remove them and scrub well with a household cleaner and rinse before rehanging them.

Control Dust

Controlling dust is very important for people who are allergic to animal dander and mites. Dust mites can thrive in sofas, stuffed chairs, carpets, and bedding.

  • Always wash bedding in hot water (at least 130° F) to kill dust mites. Cold water won't do the job. Launder bedding at least every 7 to 10 days.
  • Use synthetic or foam rubber mattress pads and pillows and plastic mattress covers if you are allergic.
  • Do not use wool blankets, feather or wool-stuffed comforters, and feather pillows.
  • Clean rooms and closets well and dust and vacuum often.
  • Fix leaks and seepage in the basement, If water is entering the house from the outside,
  • Install a sealed moisture vapor barrier over dirt crawlspaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground.
  • Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside
  • Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners in humid seasons to reduce moisture in the air.
  • Do not apply carpets on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow.

Contact us to learn more.

Your Healthy Home Show

Your Source for Helpful Tips on Keeping a Healthy Home

On the Healthy Home Show, Steve Andras and Joe Pires of Pioneer Basement discuss topics that affect the health and safety of your home.

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