indoor air pollution sources

How to Find and Limit Sneaky Sources of Air Pollution in Your Home

Residents can shrink their carbon footprints by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their homes. Minimizing local air pollution can enhance ecological conservation and protect community members’ health, whereas inhaling emissions may cause asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Reducing air pollution also enhances climate change prevention measures. You can consciously increase your home’s sustainability by uncovering and limiting sneaky sources of air pollution.

Common, and Not So Common, Sources

You can shrink your property’s carbon footprint by first evaluating the common sources of indoor pollution. A direct source of fossil fuel emissions is gas stoves. Residential kitchens use nearly 0.4% of America’s natural gas supply.

The combustion of natural gas produces about 36% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions annually. Pollutants that reach the atmosphere interfere with Earth’s natural temperature control process. The planet relies on a specific atmospheric composition to create life-sufficient surface temperatures.

Naturally, Earth absorbs solar radiation, produces heat, warms its surface, collects excess energy and emits it to space. When greenhouse gases invade the atmosphere, they trap unnecessary energy on the planet, creating more heat. They also have an elevated sunlight-to-heat conversion rate that raises Earth’s temperature over time.

Other gas-powered home appliances also produce indoor emissions. Water and space heaters utilize nearly 62% of residential energy supplies, deriving from natural gas, propane and oil. A home’s building materials can additionally leak air pollutants over time and decrease indoor air quality. Even electric home appliances, such as toasters, can sources of indoor air pollution.

Many variations of paint and insulation contain toxins known to pollute the local environment. Some paints specifically consist of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), generating adverse ecological and health effects. Some cleaning and beauty products also contain VOCs.

Carpets, materials used in making furniture, and some types of clothing, have been known to be sneaky sources of air pollution, as well. You don’t necessarily think about these items generating pollution or chemical contamination, but they can and do.

Many aerosol products create air pollution. Spray cleaners, hairspray, sunscreen and more release chemicals into the environment and trap themselves indoors. 

Other pollutants come from indoor tobacco smoke. Cigarettes create 10 times the amount of particulate matter as vehicles. Researchers concluded indoor smoking is more ecologically detrimental than exhaust. It also causes fatal respiratory conditions like bronchitis, emphysema and lung cancer.   

Another sneaky source of indoor air pollution is outdoor emissions and chemicals. If you live by a highway or high-traffic street, vehicle emissions can make their way inside and degrade the air quality. You can conserve your home’s air by first locating its primary pollution sources.

Speaking of which, air filters, while designed and intended to filter out harmful toxins, aren’t necessarily as green as you might believe. That’s why your best option is always to find and nip sources of air pollution at the source, rather than simply try to clean up afterwards.

How to Locate Pollution

You can recognize and locate sources of pollution by evaluating the signs and symptoms. If you walk into a home and notice a foul or off odor, it can signify an air pollution problem. Musty scents typically point to a buildup of mold and mildew.

The two forms of growth release toxins into the air, decreasing the quality over time. Other unpleasant scents may signify additional pollutants like VOCs. There are also visual signs of indoor air degradation, such as dust buildup, especially around vents.

Dust can signify an air quality issue and cause adverse reactions. The buildup can create allergy-like symptoms and prompt asthma attacks. Once you identify the source of indoor pollution, you can improve your home’s air quality by employing effective reduction techniques.

1. Install Electric Kitchen Appliances

You can swap your gas-powered stove for an electric version to minimize indoor pollution. Though purchasing major kitchen appliances may be costly, they can significantly shrink your carbon footprint. They also may improve your health.

One atmospheric chemist recognized the direct connection between her gas stove use and her son’s asthma attacks. After much research, she determined the differentiation between her family’s health conditions and her neighbors’. The neighborhood air quality was consistent, and the use of gas kitchen appliances altered the pollutants inside each house.

2. Use VOC-Free Paints

You can also minimize indoor air pollution by investing in VOC-free paints with Zero-VOC Emissions Standards certification. The products must contain 5 grams per liter or less of VOCs.

3. Eliminate Use of Tobacco Indoors

You may additionally shrink your home’s air pollution by eliminating indoor tobacco use. If you are an avid smoker, cutting back on your smokable tobacco use can significantly improve your sustainability levels. Additionally, you can create a designated outdoor smoking region to minimize all indoor cigarette-related emissions.

4. Replace Asbestos-Containing Insulation

A significant portion of indoor pollution derives from asbestos-containing insulation materials. You can contact builders and determine the sustainability of insulation in your home. It’s a good idea to swap out asbestos insulation for more eco-conscious materials.

Asbestos slowly releases air pollutants over time, and these emissions degrade the local environment and cause adverse lung effects. Replacing unsustainable insulation can improve a house’s indoor air quality.

5. Purchase Personal Care Products Without Siloxane

You can purchase eco-friendly products to decrease chemical emissions. Using shampoos, lotions, deodorants and other care products without siloxane can improve indoor air quality. Buying hand pump goods instead of aerosols may additionally enhance a home’s sustainability.

6. Use CFC-Free Cleaning Products

It is crucial to ensure aerosol products are free of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Items containing CFCs release carbon, chlorine and fluoride into the environment, degrading the local air quality. When purchasing care and cleaning products, look for the CFC-free label to minimize ecological and health issues.

7. Install a Smart Thermostat

You can minimize heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) emissions by installing a smart thermostat. The systems access real-time weather using Wi-Fi and adjust indoor temperatures to enhance efficiency. They also use motion detection sensors, turning an HVAC system off in a vacant home.

Reducing an HVAC system’s energy use can significantly reduce emissions. You can also connect energy-reliant systems to renewable resources to eliminate emissions.

8. Add Solar Panels

Adding solar panels to your home can reduce the emissions associated with your energy sourcing. Panels produce zero air pollutants when creating electricity. They also save money on utilities because solar is the most cost-effective power source on the market.

9. Minimize Exposure to Outdoor Pollution

If you are searching for a new property to rent or purchase, choose a location away from a major highway to ensure adequate indoor air quality. You may also test the home for radon before purchasing to reduce your risk of illness. Additionally, minimizing your use of pesticides around a property can reduce indoor air pollution.

10. Buy Smart By Researching New Purchases Ahead of Time

Planning to buy a new couch, bed, rug, carpet, appliance or even some new clothes? Do your research ahead of time. If you want to minimize indoor air pollution and improve air quality in your home, you’re going to have to limit the number of new toxins you bring in. Look for products made with natural and organic materials. Steer clear of toxins that’ll only leak into your home and affect the health of you and your family over time.

The Benefits of Limiting Residential Air Pollution

Reducing your home’s air pollutants can enhance sustainability levels while minimizing your risk of chronic health conditions. Protecting your lungs from emissions can improve your well-being, especially in developmental stages. Shrinking your footprint also helps America reach its carbon-neutrality goal to prevent adverse climate change effects.

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