HowStuffWorks.com describes it well: Formaldehyde, PCB, asbestos: These are words that you don’t want associated with your living space. Yet odds are that you encounter at least one of these chemicals in your home every day. If not, you’re not out of the woods just yet.
Indoor air pollutants can be released at high levels in short bursts, like when you use spray paint, or at lower levels over time, like chemicals leaching out of your carpet. There are many sources of indoor air pollution within any home, including pets, dust, bacteria and odor-causing particles. The list can also include pollution from tobacco use, exhaust, central heating and cooling systems and even humidification devices. Outdoor pollution can even creep in and affect the quality of air inside the home.
- Environmental tobacco smoke: the combination of smoke coming from the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar, as well as the smoke exhaled by the smoker.
- Biological contaminants: bacteria, mold, mildew, viruses, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches and pollen. Many of these grow in damp, warm environments or are brought in from outside.
- Combustion: unvented gas space heaters, wood stoves, fireplaces and gas stoves emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and small particles. More than 3 billion people worldwide continue to rely on solid fuels like wood and coal for their energy needs [source: World Health Organization].
- Household products: paints, varnishes, hobby products and cleaning products all contain organic chemicals that are released during use and storage.
- Pesticides: 80% of most people’s exposure to pesticides happens inside; measurable levels of up to 12 pesticides have been detected in indoor air [source: EPA].
Inadequate ventilation can increase the pollutant levels by not bringing in enough fresh air and not carrying enough pollutants out of the home or business. For more information, please visit the EPA’s website: www.epa.gov