Headaches? Tired for no reason? You are not alone. If you’ve been feeling sick without explanation or without a known cause, you may have an indoor air quality issue caused by everyday items that release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into the environment, as well as organic air pollutants, like mold and dust mites. If you have allergies or asthma, they can become worse in an environment with unhealthy air.
VOCs are toxic vapors that are off-gassed from man-made materials, and everyday items in your home or workplace. They cause poor indoor air quality, commonly referred to as “indoor air pollution.” VOCs can be toxic, and very dangerous to your health.
Common symptoms of VOC exposure include headaches, fatigue and listlessness, dizziness, nausea, nervousness, and difficulty concentrating. Long-term exposure to VOCs can result in cancer, and damage to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system.
Organic indoor air pollutants can be just as dangerous, and cause your allergy symptoms to be significantly worse. Mold is a top offender, and many times goes unnoticed. When the weather warms up, mold begins to grow in dark, damp places – especially behind walls and under sinks. A musty odor is a tell-tale sign of a mold problem. If you had an ice dam or pipe break over the winter, the mold may have just started to grow, and you may not see it.
Here’s a list of the top indoor air quality polluters:
- Furniture and cabinets, especially those made of composite material
- New bedding, mattresses, and pillows
- Photocopiers and printers
- Adhesives and glues
- Cosmetics and toiletries
- Permanent markers and DIY craft supplies
- Vinyl, such as shower curtains or tile
- Scented candles
- Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals
- Air fresheners
- Moth balls
- Dry cleaning and laundry detergents
- Wood-burning stoves
- New cars (that “new car” smell)
- Dust Mites
- Pet Dander
- Insect Cells
If you suspect that your indoor air quality or mold may be causing health issues, RTK can test to determine if there are dangerous levels of mold or chemicals or pollutants in your home; VOCs including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and chemical particles, and then determine what the source of your contamination is.
We can also test for common asthma triggers, such as dust mites and insects cells. Once you have the results, we can show you how to eliminate the source of the problem, and how to keep future household chemical contamination under control. If you have allergies, it is often recommended to invest in a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter once the problem has been identified and alleviated. For information on when to conduct an indoor air quality test, visit our IAQ and Radon page. For more information on mold and allergies, click here.