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How Do You Know if Your Home's Air Quality is Bad - Especially If You Don't Smell Anything?

In the air we breathe outdoors, we know that smog and other pollutants are a big cause for concern. But don't assume that the air quality inside your home is perfectly safe. A number of chemicals found in the home can pollute the air, making indoor air quality testing essential for a healthy home.

The Clues: Signs of Indoor Air Quality Problems

How do you know if you should be concerned about your indoor air quality? Look for these common warning signs that may indicate you have indoor air pollutants:

  • You feel sick at home and better when you’re away.

  • You’ve noticed problems, even just extra dirt, around heating or cooling units.

  • Air doesn’t seem to be circulating properly in the house.

  • You spot mold in your home.

  • Your indoor air is humid, resulting in condensation.

  • There’s been damage to a chimney or flue.

  • Your home’s construction is too tight without proper ventilation.

  • You’ve noticed changes in your health after renovating or remodeling.

  • The air in your home always smells old or stuffy.

  • There’s an odor in the air that you can't get rid of.

If you suspect you have an issue with indoor air quality, you can perform tests to see if specific air pollutants are infiltrating your home and possibly affecting your health.

The Culprits: Potential Air Pollutants

Before you test your indoor air quality, you need to know what you're looking for. Here are some of the most common indoor air pollutants that could be contaminating your home:



Lead and lead dust

Household chemicals

Carbon monoxide


Dust and molds

Pet hair and dander

Rodents and cockroaches

The Sources: Where Indoor Air Pollutants Originate

There are many ways that air pollutants can contaminate the air inside your home. Most often, chemicals or materials inside the home emit gases or particulates. Poor ventilation and circulation don't allow contaminants to flow out of the home; very humid homes and climates are also a breeding ground for contaminants.

Here are some sources of indoor air pollutants that can impair your indoor air quality, particularly when ventilation isn’t good:

  • Household chemicals, solvents, and cleaning products

  • Malfunctioning space heaters

  • Poorly vented furnaces or stoves

  • Outdoor air pollution that gets in

  • Pesticide use

  • Wood, kerosene, oil, gas, and coal burned for heat

  • Insulation made with asbestos

  • Carpets, furniture, and rugs that have been treated with chemicals or have become wet

  • Tobacco products and smoke

The Results: Indoor Air Quality and Your Health

Indoor air pollutants can affect your entire family's health, by contributing to the development of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. In addition, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, and heart disease can result from long-term exposure to indoor air pollutants.

To improve your indoor air quality, consider installing an air cleaning system to remove air pollutants from your home. There are a number of different air cleaning systems and devices that will remove solid and gaseous contaminants from the air.

It's also important to make sure that your home is well-ventilated. A poorly ventilated home can trap air pollutants inside. Good ventilation also reduces humidity levels and can help prevent the growth of mold and mildew in your home.

If you think your home is making you sick, you just might be right. Take steps quickly to solve the problem by identifying and then getting rid of indoor air pollutants. Taking action will help you breathe more easily.


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