How do you know if your home’s air quality is unhealthy?

Concerned that the air in your home may be harming your health or the health of a family member? You may need to do a little digging to find the likely culprit. But by simply walking through your home and asking yourself a few questions, you will be able to find out if the indoor air in your home is causing a problem.

Do health symptoms improve when you leave your home? Do they return when you come back? If so, you may have an indoor air quality problem and should explore the following potential sources:

  • Is anyone smoking indoors? No one should smoke indoors.
  • Can you see or smell mold or mildew?
  • Is the humidity regularly above 50 percent?
  • Are there leaks or standing water anywhere—kitchen, basement, attic?
  • Are all fuel-burning appliances (gas stoves, water heaters, fireplaces) fully and properly vented to the outdoors?
  • Is there an attached garage or basement where cars, lawnmowers or motorcycles are stored?
  • Are household chemicals, paints or solvents stored indoors or in an attached garage or basement?
  • Have you recently remodeled or added new furniture, carpeting or painted your home?
  • Do you use odor-masking chemicals or “air-freshening” devices?
  • Has kitchen or food garbage been covered and/or removed?
  • Have you used pesticides recently?
  • Have you tested your home for radon?

If after asking yourself the above questions, some or all of the above questions raised some alarming answers, you can use the below air quality strategies to protect the air quality in your home:

  • Source Control – Usually the most effective way to improve indoor air quality is to eliminate individual sources of pollution or to reduce their emissions.
  • Ventilation Improvements – For most indoor air quality problems in the home, source control is the most effective solution. Another approach to lowering the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your home is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming indoors.
  • Air Cleaners – There are many types and sizes of air cleaners on the market, ranging from relatively inexpensive table-top models to sophisticated and expensive whole-house systems. Some air cleaners are highly effective at particle removal, while others, including most table-top models, are much less so. Air cleaners are generally not designed to remove gaseous pollutants.