How Poor Indoor Air Quality Can Make You Sick

If you live in a home that has poor indoor air quality, you may be at greater risk for developing certain illnesses. Even those who keep spotless homes are not immune to poor air quality, as this generally is not the result of inferior housecleaning. If you or a family member develops new allergies or health symptoms, the air that you're breathing inside your home may be to blame: Here are some ways in which poor indoor air quality can make you sick:

Radon And Carbon Monoxide

Both radon and carbon monoxide are odorless, colorless, and very dangerous. Carbon monoxide can make you sick very quickly, and not only can this gas be emitted from faulty furnaces, it can also be released by improperly working gas ranges, propane heaters and gas generators.

If your power goes out and you decide to operate a gas generator, never run it in your garage, inside your home, or outside close to an open window. A carbon monoxide detector can alert you of a leak early on so that you can call for emergency services. 

Radon, although it often takes many years of exposure before signs of illness are noticed, can lead to serious lung diseases. It can seep into your home from soil, rocks or water underneath your home, and the levels can vary widely between the homes on your block.

Testing for radon using a special kit is the only way to learn if your home has a problem, and if so, a radon mitigation company can help decrease exposure. To help reduce your risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, call a furnace repair professional, such as Just In Time Furnace Inc, to have your heating system inspected every year. Also, make sure the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector are changed per the owner's manual or on an annual basis. .

Air Fresheners And Candles

While air fresheners and candles can enhance the atmosphere and lend a pleasant fragrance to your home, many of them contain chemicals known as phthalates, which have been linked to endocrine and reproductive system problems. They also can contain volatile organic compounds which can exacerbate breathing problems in people with asthma.

These compounds may increase wheezing episodes and cause an increase in nasal congestion, eye irritation, coughing and sore throat. Incense and scented candles have the potential of releasing toxic particles and soot into the air of your home, which can trigger a severe allergic reaction. Not only can scented products cause breathing and allergy problems in people, your pets can be affected to.

Dogs and cats are especially vulnerable to air contaminates, and may develop skin allergies, dull coats, runny noses and loss of appetite if exposed air fresheners or other products designed to enhance the fragrance of the air.

Most people will notice an improvement in allergy or asthma symptoms once they stop using air fresheners, scented candles and incense. If you still want to light a scented candle every now and then, consider using soy candles, as these may be safer for your respiratory system. Also, using an air purifier can help improve the air quality in your home when you use scented products.

Call a furnace repair professional to make sure your heating and air conditioning systems are in proper working order. In addition to checking the mechanics of the unit, the technician can change the filter so that fibers or other particulates don't get blown into the air when your furnace is on.

If you believe you live in a high radon area of the country, have your home tested. Also, if you experience a headache, nausea, drowsiness, confusion or dizziness after your carbon monoxide detector goes off, call 911 immediately and then step outside for fresh air.