The winter can bring wonderful holidays and fun snow days, but it can also bring great threats to indoor air quality (IAQ). In fact, it probably brings some of the greatest threats to IAQ, such as pollution from fireplaces and/or combustible heating sources (e.g. furnaces and stoves). All heating sources emit fine particulates that can burrow into the lungs, causing or exacerbating respiratory issues. This threat is heightened by the fact that people spend more time indoors during the winter.
However, heating sources aren’t the only threats to IAQ during this time. Mold and mildew buildup can be dangerous during the winter. Dust mites, pet dander, and other pollutants build up quickly. And lethal carbon monoxide (CO) can leak from any heating source. These potential pollutants are a major reason why winter is the best time to have your indoor air quality tested. Below is an explanation of why this is important.
You Spend More Time Indoors
During the winter, most people spend more time at home. However, this can be dangerous if your home has poor IAQ. Not to mention, the more energy efficient homes become, the greater the concentration of air pollution. This can be dangerous to you and your pets. Some of the most common causes of these dangers and decreased IAQ include airborne fiberglass and dander. Inhaling or being exposed to these pollutants is sure to cause coughing, sneezing, wheezing, skin irritation, and other allergy symptoms. These symptoms and pollutants will only be compounded by all the time you spend indoors during the colder months.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants Accumulate
Many pollutants and allergens can accumulate and thrive during the winter, which is why you should call a team of professionals like Brothers in Grime for air quality testing. Some of the most common pollutants are: dander, volatile organic compounds, mold and mildew, dust mites, and carbon monoxide nitrogen dioxide.
- Dander is particulates formed by skin and hair shedding. It’s caused by humans and their pets. Because you and your pets spend more time indoors, concentrations of dander are higher during the winter. It’s also one of the most difficult allergens to remove.
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde can be found in common household products and particle board structures (cabinets or furniture). They can contribute to and perpetuate respiratory problems and skin irritation.
- Heat and steam from the kitchen and bathroom make moisture buildup common during the winter. Of course, this buildup can eventually lead to the formation of mold and/or mildew. Mildew can be easily removed, but mold is persistent. Mold spores can cause many respiratory problems and can even be fatal. Plus, it should only be removed by professionals like Brothers in Grime.
- High concentrations of dust mites are also caused by an increased amount of time spent at home. Dust mite collections can be found on multiple surfaces, including on drapery, furniture, bedding, and carpeting. These mites are one of the top allergens and can cause sneezing, coughing, colds, allergic reactions, and other respiratory irritations.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide are some of the scariest indoor air pollutants. They’re both gases given off by combustible heating sources (furnaces, stoves, and heaters). Although these heating sources also give off harmful nitrogen dioxide, CO is by far the more dangerous pollutant. It’s colourless, odorless, and lethal in high concentrations, but easy to detect during testing. Therefore, your IAQ should be tested every winter. However, some CO poisoning symptoms to look out for include, nausea, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, poor coordination, and confusion. Nitrogen dioxide is also colourless and odorless and can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, a runny nose and eyes, chronic bronchitis, coughing up mucus and a sore throat.
If it’s been a while since you had an air quality test done, or you suspect there may be a problem at your home or business, give us a call to schedule an air quality testing. You will be happy you did!