Safety and Biological Air Pollution part 2/6

By JDFerris | Homeowner Safety

Jun 10

Inspecting Your Home For Biological Pollutants, part 2 of 6

There is no fundamental or inexpensive way to sample the air in your home to figure out the level of all biological pollutants. Experts suggest that sampling for natural toxins is not a useful analytical tool. Even if you had your home evaluated, it is almost impossible to know which organic material(s) trigger different symptoms or illness. The amount of the majority of biological compounds needed to trigger disease is unknown and varies from each person to the other. Should this make this a hopeless issue? Most definitely not! There are several simple, practical actions you can take to remove sources of biological pollutants, to help eliminate contaminants, and to prevent their return.

Self-Inspection: A Walk Through Your Home

Before you provide away the household pet or move, there are less extreme steps you can take to lower prospective problems. Appropriately cleaning and maintaining your house can assist lower the problem and might avoid interrupting your regimen.

Begin by touring your household. Follow your nose and utilize your eyes. Two significant factors assist in the development of conditions for biological pollutants to grow: nutrients and consistent moisture with poor air circulation.

Dust and building and construction products, such as wallboard, wood, and insulation, include nutrients that allow biological pollutants to grow. Firewood also is a source of moisture, fungus, and possibly even termites.
Humidifiers, gas and kerosene heaters, clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers and gas stoves, all add moisture to the air.
A moldy smell, wetness on surface areas, and even water discolorations may be brought on by:

Safety and Biological Air Pollution part 2/6  -
  • Air-conditioning Systems
  • Basements, Crawlspaces, and Attics
  • Bathrooms
  • Carpets
  • Heating and Cooling Ducts
  • Humidifiers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Fridge Drip Pans
  • and more…

What You Can Do About Biological Pollutants

Moisture Control and Indoor Air Quality

Water in your house can originate from many sources. Water can enter your home by dripping or by permeating through basement flooding. Showers and even cooking can add wetness to the air in your house. The total amount of moisture the air in your home can hold depends on how warm or cold the air is. As the temperature drops, the air becomes unable to keep as much moisture, which is why, in winter, moisture condenses on cold surfaces (an example of this is when water droplets form on a window). This moisture which forms and accumulates can encourage biological pollutants and/or toxins to grow.

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There are many methods of controlling moisture in your home. Unexpected water in the basement can be the result of absent or leaky gutters, which can cause water to flow toward your home. Leaks in pipes, as well as around tubs and sinks, can offer a place for biological pollutants to grow.

Put a moisture barrier over dirt crawlspaces to avoid moisture from the ground. It is also vital to be sure crawlspaces are well-ventilated.

Use exhaust fans in kitchen areas and restrooms to remove moisture to the outdoors (not into the attic). Vent your clothes dryer to the exterior.

If you discover wetness on windows and other surfaces, turn off particular devices (such as humidifiers and kerosene heating units).

Usage dehumidifiers and air conditioning system, especially in hot, humid climates, to minimize moisture in the air but make sure that the devices themselves don’t end up being sources of biological pollutants.

Raise the temperature level of cold surfaces where moisture condenses.

Insulation can be a huge help in certain situations, but you must exercise caution as insulation is not meant to get wet, and becomes virtually worthless if this happens. Open doors in-between spaces (particularly doors to closets which might be colder than the areas) to increase flow. Circulation carries heat to the cold surfaces. Increase air circulation by utilizing fans and by moving furniture from wall corners to promote air and heat circulation. Make sure that your house has a source of fresh air and can expel extreme dampness from the house.

Carpet can soak up moisture and serve as a location for biological organisms to grow. In certain climates, if a rug is to be set up over concrete flooring, it may be required to use a vapor retarder (moisture resistant sheeting) to cover the concrete and maintain a proper sub-flooring (insulation covered with plywood) above this to prevent a moisture problem.

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Moisture issues and their options vary from one environment to another. The Northeast is cold and damp, the Southwest is hot and dry, the South is warm and moist, whereas the Western states are typically colder and dryer. Even still, all of these regions can have moisture issues. For instance, evaporative coolers used in the Southwest can motivate the development of biological pollutants. In other hot areas, the use of a system that cools the air too rapidly may not have been running for long enough to remove all of the excess moisture from the air. The kind of buildings and weather for various climates can result in different issues and solutions.

Even taking showers and cooking adds moisture to the air in your house. The amount of moisture, or the saturation point/level the air in your home has at any given time depends on the temperature of the air. As temperature decreases, the air can hold less moisture, which is why, in cold weather conditions, wetness condenses on cold surface areas. To ensure your home has a source of fresh air and can ventilate excessive moisture to the exterior, or handle in some other way, It is always a good idea to actually operate ventilation fans and windows, not merely have them installed to look good. In other hot locations, the use of air conditioners that cool the air rapidly may not have been left running long enough to eliminate excess wetness from the air.

Source: "Biological Pollutants' Impact on Indoor Air Quality, EPA.gov, 6/10/19"

Biological contaminants include bacteria, viruses, animal dander and cat saliva, house dust, mites, cockroaches, and pollen. There are many sources of these pollutants. By controlling the relative humidity level in a home, the growth of some sources of biological pollutants can be minimized. A relative humidity of 30-50 percent is generally recommended for homes…..Continue Reading…..

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