Is Your Home Making You Sick?
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. Studies have shown that the air in our homes can be even more polluted than outdoor air. On average, we spend 90 percent of our 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.
Indoor Air Pollution
Would you believe that half of buildings in the United States are water damaged leading to the growth of mold and the potential for mold illness? Given that most of us spend significant time in a home and indoor work space, there’s a good chance you’ve been exposed to water damage and mold. Indoor air pollution is something every home in America struggles with. Since 1970 homes have been built “tighter” to conserve energy.
Environmental Protection Agency Facts:
Here are some facts and statistics regarding your health and your home’s indoor air quality, according to the EPA.
- You spend about 90% of your time indoors.
- The quality of indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than the worst outside air.
- The EPA has ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental dangers.
- Allergies, asthma, lung cancer & heart problems have been linked to poor air quality by the The American Heart Association.
- Indoor High Humidity promotes the mold growth – Many studies have shown a link between building dampness and adverse health effects.
How healthy is your home?
According to the EPA, over 50% of the air you breathe on the 1st floor of your home comes from your basement or crawl space through a natural occurrence called stack-effect. “If the lower levels of your home such as the basement or crawl space is not healthy, then your home is not healthy” says Steve Andras, author of French Drain for Health. A wet & damp basement or crawl space can create an unhealthy indoor living environment. Even a small corrective step can make a major difference in someone’s home or work place.
Pollutants can enter from lower levels through Stack-Effect.
Since the 1970s, homes have been built increasingly airtight to save on gas and electricity reducing the amount of air exchange. Air tight (Energy Efficient) homes have drawn more attention to all of the pollutants a basement or crawl space has to offer through what we call “stack effect”.
Air is constantly rising from the basement/ crawl space into the upper levels of the home.
Stack effect is the movement of air into and out of buildings, chimneys and flues and is driven by a difference in indoor to outdoor air density resulting from temperature and moisture differences. Less dense hot air rises and is replaced by denser, cool air. The greater the thermal difference and the height of the structure, the greater the stack effect. The stack effect is also referred to as the “chimney effect” and it helps drive natural ventilation in a house. So if the air is unhealthy in your basement and or crawlspace, that same year is most likely permeating the upper levels of your home or workplace.
Increased Risk of Health Problems
Studies have shown that people who occupy damp buildings are at an increased risk of health problems. Studies have also established an association between indoor dampness with respiratory infections and disturbing the immune system. Homeowners should take care of their basements & crawl spaces not to just get rid of the nuisance, but more importantly to make their home healthy for themselves and their family. What’s downstairs, is upstairs!
Determine if you are at risk
The following is information that can help determine whether your health problems may be related to biological pollution:
- Does anyone 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 and return when you come back?
- Did your symptoms occur during or after remodeled your home?
- Does your home feel humid?
- 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 your house plants show signs of mold?