Curt Drew, President and owner of the National Radon Defense, discusses the '5 danger levels' to break down what the harmful pollutants are in your home and to help you understand more about what they are.
When you consider the average time a homeowner spends within their household; one has to wonder if the quality of the air inside is okay or not. With energy costs skyrocketing each year, houses are being built 'tighter' by installing higher performing insulation to improve both the comfort and the overall energy savings of the home. The problem with a 'tighter' (better insulated home) can turn into an issue of indoor air quality because dangerous gases or particulates can get into the home and stay. Asthma, for example, has grown at an alarming rate, in the United States alone there's been a 600% increase in the number of asthma cases over the last 30 years - that's 750,000 new asthma cases per year! Allergies are also a growing concern in the U.S. and having a 'tighter' home can attribute to instances with heightened allergies or asthma.
Danger level 5: Dangerous gases -- Both radon and carbon monoxide are dangerous gases - as you can't see, smell or taste these gases but they can be fatal. Radon is the number cause of lung cancer for non-smokers in the United States and carbon monoxide is just as dangerous with symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, fatigue and fatalities.
Danger level 4: Microbial growth --Environments over 50% humidity can be a breeding ground for microbial growth, fungus, mildew, and invisible spores to grow. Fungus, for example, can circulate and move around through the air of a high and humid environment, as well as mold spores, which you may also see in a crawl space or basement. Both mold and fungus can attribute to health effects such as respiratory illnesses, nose and throat illnesses, congestion, sneezing, cough and wheezing, vomiting, headaches and more.
Danger level 3: Allergens and Particulates -- This can be in the form of insect debris, dust mites, pet dander, tobacco smoke, dust and pollen and more. These particulates can circulate within the air and causes illnesses such as nose and throat irritation, runny nose, congestion, sneezing and asthma flares.
Danger level 2: Infectious Illnesses -- When one family member comes into the home with an illness, such as a bacterial or virus infection, the illness is quickly passed throughout the home because the germs spread quickly in a tightly sealed home. Illnesses entering the home such as streptococcus, influenza, pneumonia, common cold viruses and others can lead to sinusitis, upper respiratory illnesses, throat & ear infections, as well as bronchitis to other family members.
Danger level 1: Toxic Compounds -- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, methylene chloride, nitrogen dioxide and others can be brought into your house through building materials such as carpets, drywall, different types of glues and paints. Pollution and pesticides are another form of VOC that can enter your building through the soil and drawn into the house. Health effects with VOCs can include memory lapse, blurred vision, lung dysfunction, lethargy and headaches.