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Indoor Air Pollution

When most people think about "air pollution," their thoughts go to outside air. Vehicles, industry and smoke from forest fires can all create outdoor air pollution that can be uncomfortable to breathe at best and cause serious health problems at worst. However, indoor air pollution can be just as dangerous. Knowing the causes of indoor air pollution and how to reduce or avoid it is important in keeping you and your family healthy. Air duct cleaning Denver can also help improve the indoor air quality in your home or commercial building.

Smoke and Heating-Related Pollution

Most people have heard about the dangers of secondhand smoke, but this continues to be a major source of indoor pollutants. Although banned from most commercial premises, secondhand smoke still can be hazardous in the home, particularly for children who have asthma.

While secondhand smoke often causes harm over time, carbon monoxide can have a more immediate effect on health. Vehicle exhaust is one source of carbon monoxide, but long term in the home, it is more likely to come from poorly ventilated heaters, including kerosene and gas heaters, wood and gas stoves and fireplaces. A damaged flue or chimney can also allow carbon monoxide to leak out as can furnace and boilers that are not well-maintained. Fatigue is a minor side effect of carbon monoxide poisoning, but in more serious cases, it can lead to vision issues, confusion, headaches, nausea and even death.

In addition to carbon monoxide dangers, wood smoke poses additional hazards, particularly from particulate matter that can lodge in the lungs and cause pneumonia, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases. Newer stoves burn cleaner and are less likely to cause these types of issues, so they are good choices for improving indoor air quality. Wood and other solid fuel cookstoves can also present a danger although these are more commonly found outside of the United States.

Nitrogen dioxide may come from some of the same sources that carbon dioxide does, such as poorly vented appliances, cigarette smoke and kerosene heaters. It can also cause eye, nose and throat irritation and lead to respiratory issues. One way to reduce the prevalence of nitrogen dioxide in the home is to have central heating systems inspected and cleaned regularly.

The indoor particulate matter produced by many of the above items can also be better controlled by making sure that filters are changed regularly. Air duct cleaning cost may be worth it to help ensure that this and other types of pollutants are not a danger in the home environment.


Asbestos was once frequently used in insulation, roofing shingles, on vinyl floor tiles and in other common building materials. Asbestos still has not been entirely banned although exposure to it can have deadly consequences, sometimes decades after exposure. It is generally safe when undisturbed, but remodeling projects can release particles into the air that can lead to lung disease and cancer. Dealing with asbestos is not appropriate for DIY-type projects, and professionals should be called in if disturbing or removing it is necessary.


Lead is another substance that was often used in building, most frequently in paint. Also like asbestos, it is not toxic until disturbed, but this disturbance can include the usual peeling of paint that occurs with time due to natural wear and tear. While this might release particles into the air, lead as indoor air pollution might primarily may come from such sources as being brought in on contaminated soil and from an activity like soldering. Doormats for people to wipe their feet, regular cleaning and maintaining or replacing painted surfaces can help keep lead particles out of the air and improve indoor air quality.

Common Household Items

Many people have heard about the dangers of asbestos and lead, but there are other threats to in home air quality that may be part of normal household items and are less well known. For example, many people are not aware that pressed wood products contain formaldehyde as do other common products, such as paper. These products release small amounts of formaldehyde into the air, called off-gassing, that can become dangerous over time. Ventilation as well as the use of air conditioning and dehumidifiers can be especially important in reducing formaldehyde exposure, and an air duct cleaning Denver can help ensure that HVAC systems are working efficiently.

Formaldehyde is one type of many volatile organic compounds present in hundreds of common household products. VOCs can be found in everything from paint and cleaners to craft supplies, fuel, air fresheners and more. Of course, like formaldehyde, these are small amounts, and their effect on the quality of your air indoors occurs over time. In addition to irritation to the respiratory system, some VOCs can damage organs and cause cancer. Home levels can be particularly high after paint stripping or similar activities. Good ventilation and air flow circulating throughout your home or commercial space is crucial for maintaining healthy levels of exposure to these products.


A naturally occurring radioactive gas, radon is also toxic to humans and is a major cause of lung cancer. Outside, radon tends to dissipate, but indoors, it can linger and reach dangerous levels. Some areas have more radon than others, and you can get a kit to test the levels in your home or workplace. There are service providers who have the credentials to take steps to mitigate radon in your home if this an indoor air quality problem for you.


You may think of pesticides as primarily an outdoor danger or something that you have to worry about on your food, but pesticides can present other dangers to your air quality indoors as well. You might track pesticides inside on your shoes, but if you are like most people, you probably use them in your home as well. The residue of pesticides can linger on the air and cause respiratory and other problems over the long term, so good ventilation is important.

Biological Pollutants

Biological pollutants range from pollen and dust to roaches and mice to viruses and bacteria. These pollutants or they produce can be found in the air and in air ducts, and this can lead to allergic reactions—even in people who have never previously displayed sensitivity—and can exacerbate asthma. Controlling home humidity can help reduce the growth of some biological pollutants, but neglected humidifiers can also be a source of them.

There are indoor air quality standards that cover many of the pollutants listed above. An indoor air quality monitor can help you keep an eye on things, but regular cleaning and maintenance and taking care to keep hazardous materials out of the home or reduce their use there and in commercial spaces is also important.

One way to improve the quality of the air in your home or commercial space is by looking up "air duct cleaning near me." Having professionals clean your air ducts is one solution that may help to improve your air quality for healthier working and living.

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