Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Air Quality Health ConcernsIndoor Air Quality

Our indoor home environment has the potential to be more hazardous than many industrial sites. The EPA has noted that measured chemical exposures and levels are five times higher in the home than outside the home.  The impact of this can be measured in the thousands of dollars that are required to remedy sick homes, not to mention causing serious health problems such as asthma and upper respiratory infections.

The problem is compounded by the fact that building construction methods have resulted in tighter, more energy efficient homes, which trap indoor air pollutants and hazardous chemicals within the home. With occupants spending as much as 90 percent of their time at home, the risk of adverse effects on the human body has increased significantly. 

There are many reasons to have your home inspected for Indoor Air Quality issues. 
Some of the primary reasons are summarized below.  

Pre-Purchase Home Inspection

A home inspection should be performed prior to the purchase of any home. The economic impact of purchasing someone else’s environmental problem may easily exceed the value of the home that you are buying. Always have the home that you are considering buying inspected for both structural and environmental concerns.

Pre Purchase HomeInspection and Indoor Air Quality ConcernsIt should be remembered that the common home inspection does not cover any environmental concerns in detail. In most cases, the home inspector report specifically excludes these issues. Buying a healthy home is as equally important as buying a structurally sound home. All inspections should be performed under the direction of a licensed professional.

Unexplained Health Problems

Many of today’s health problems are being traced to poor indoor air quality and/or chemical exposures and hazardous environments that exist within and in some cases around our homes.  

Asthma and other respiratory diseases have increased 8-fold over the last three decades. At the same time, federally mandated air pollution controls and standards have been increased dramatically. Why has our health deteriorated during a period that our outdoor air quality has been better regulated? The primary reason is that our indoor air quality has gotten dramatically worse. 

Mold and mildew is a common indoor air contaminant in many homes. Modern building construction methods have resulted in tighter, more energy efficient homes, which trap indoor air pollutants and hazardous chemicals within the home. Builders, in their search to reduce home construction prices, are increasingly resorting to the use of cheaper, chemically manufactured particle boards and building materials.

Cheaper construction techniques and inadequate quality control has resulted in water entry problems, mold and mildew growth and in some areas the presence of Chinese drywall. With occupants spending as much as 90 percent of their time at home, the risk of adverse effects on the human body has increased significantly.

Children's Health

Young-Children-Healthy.jpgChildren are especially at risk to exposure to these hazardous indoor environments due to the immaturity of their immune and respiratory systems, smaller body sizes, and higher metabolic rates (they assimilate the chemicals they are exposed to, quicker). Children also spend a large proportion of their day inside the home.

The statistics speak for themselves:

  • Asthma and other childhood respiratory diseases have increased 8-fold over the last three decades;
  • Asthma remains the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States today;
  • One of the primary causes of asthma and other allergic reactions is exposure to house dust mites and molds. Studies have estimated that 45 percent or 44 million homes have dust mite allergens and 6 percent or 6 million homes contain high levels of cockroach allergens;
  • Allergists now believe that 80 percent of the upper respiratory problems experienced today are related to exposure to airborne fungus that sources from mold;
  • Childhood cancer rates have increased dramatically in the last three decades.

The concern over asbestos in the schools was recognized by the EPA in the early 1980's. The EPA was so concerned that they took immediate action in the form of implementing inspections and abatements where asbestos presented an exposure concern. Why should the home, where kids spend more of their time, be treated any differently than their schools?

Air Quality Effects on the Elderly

Indoor-Air-Quality-Senior-Health-Issues.jpgAging has an effect on the immune system, making the elderly more sensitive and susceptible to the harmful effects of exposure to hazardous materials in the home.  Additionally, the elderly spend a large proportion of their time inside the home.

Existing Health Problems & Personal Habits

People in high risk health categories (those who smoke, drink alcohol and use or have used other drugs) and people with existing health conditions and chemical or immune system sensitivities, are at a greater risk of developing an adverse response to exposures to hazardous materials within the home.

Water or Flood Entry Incident

Mold and bacteria growth can occur on wet building materials within 24 to 48 hours of water entry. Often the first indications that a homeowner will notice is the presence of a musty odor within the air. The mustiness is an indication that microbial growth is occurring. If left unabated, the fungus will actively spread through the release of spores (amplification) into the air. 

Exposure to building occupants occurs when the spores are inhaled or when the by-products of the fungal metabolism (mVOCs, microtoxins, etc.) are inhaled. Many of the fungal spores and their metabolites are toxic or can induce allergic reactions in sensitive persons.

Rapid response is the most effective procedure in addressing water entry problems. If the water is removed and the drying process is completed within 24-48 hours of initial entry, mold growth should be limited. If high moisture levels are allowed to extend beyond 48 hours it is likely that mold growth will start. 

In houses where mold growth is identified or mustiness is present, EnviroHome, Inc. recommends that an inspection be performed by a trained professional. The purpose of the inspection is to assess the extent of hazard that the mold and mildew presents and to recommend the appropriate level of response action to safely abate the problem. Air monitoring or other testing should be performed to document exposure levels and worker protection requirements.

For testing and services to improve your home's indoor air quality contact EnviroHome at 888-810-2228.