Our houses are our sanctuaries, but your indoor air may be dirtier than you think. This could make him uncomfortable at home and potentially even make you sick.
If you’re having trouble with indoor air quality, there are things you can do to help, and you can buy devices, like an air purifier, dehumidifier, and humidifier. But they are not cheap. While their names are self-explanatory, it’s not as easy to figure out when you might need them. We’ve talked to experts, read research reports, and tested some products to give you the best advice.
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What’s wrong with indoor air?
Depending on where you live, indoor air quality can suffer. It may be full of dust; pet dander; outdoor pollutants, which can include wildfire smoke depending on where you live; formaldehyde, which can come from wooden furniture; and special case. Your indoor air may also include a number of volatile organic compounds. (VOCs as a whole are not a health issue, only specific issues, and these vary from home to home.)
The World Health Organization estimates that nine out of 10 people are exposed to air pollution, which increases their risk of contracting several diseases, including stroke, heart disease and cancer.
“Many pollutants can be found in a person’s home, depending on many factors such as geographic location or the age of the home and the building materials used,” says Joe Heaney, president of Lotus Biosecurity, a company in the field of improving indoor air quality. “If you have a home with a wood-burning stove or fireplace, these are likely to introduce particles into your indoor air, which can cause a range of respiratory symptoms and illnesses. Mold, dust or animal hair can be a source of allergies, and pathogens (although not pollutants) brought into the home by friends and neighbors can cause illness.
Basically, when the air inside is stuffy, too dry, or too humid, it affects the way you feel, making cold and allergy symptoms worse, drying out your sinuses and skin, and even causing to mold growth. But it can get much worse than that.
“Poor indoor air quality can affect even the healthiest lungs,” says Kenneth Mendez, president of the American Asthma and Allergy Foundation. “Pollutants can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue. This can trigger allergy symptoms, including chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, shortness of breath, and even asthma attacks.