Indoor Air Pollution: Biological
Biological contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, mold spores and mildew, are produced within the home. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mold and other biological pollutants are commonly found in homes that have damp areas or are poorly ventilated. Like any living organisms, biological pollutants need basic nutrients and water to survive. which make poorly ventilated bathrooms and damp basements perfect breeding grounds.
Like airborne pollutants, mold and mildew can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Symptoms can include a runny nose, coughing, sneezing, headaches and fatigue. For very sensitive individuals, mold and mildew can even cause severe respiratory infections, and can even result in mold infections in the lungs. For homes with airtight ventilation systems, bacteria and viruses are more easily spread between residents, but are also prone to breeding in humid locations.
Where biological pollutants grow at home:
- Poorly ventilated areas or appliances allow a build-up of moisture, which can potentially become breeding grounds for contaminants.
- Water reservoirs are ideal for a number of different viruses, bacteria and mold. These ideal water reservoirs can often be found in humidifiers, hot tubs or spas, vaporizers and even air conditioners. These appliances also have the ability to disperse anything growing into the air.
- Building materials made from cellulose, including wood and drywall, can grow mold or mildew if they remain wet for longer than 48 hours.
How to keep biological air pollutants at bay:
- Keep the humidity level at home as low as possible. Humidity levels will change throughout the day, so checking on humidity levels several times a day is ideal. Dehumidifiers can help keep these levels down, particularly during months that tend to be more humid.
- Check pipes frequently for any possible leaks or dampness. If leaks are present, fix the problem as quickly as possible.
- Mold inhibitors can be added to paints before being applied to walls inside the home. Further, there are numerous products that have mold and mildew-killing agents added to them that are perfect for cleaning bathrooms and kitchens. These will also help to kill any bacteria present.
- Installing exhaust fans that vent outside the home will help to eliminate moisture buildup.
If mold is found in the home, it is imperative that it be removed. There are mold tests available; however, the CDC has stated that there are no standards for judging how much mold can be considered safe. If mold can be seen or if there is a musty odor within the home, there is a potential health risk.
Sometimes flooding happens, especially after sudden downpours or during the spring when the snow melts quickly. As soon as possible, remove waterlogged carpet or furniture as these are ideal breeding grounds for mold, mildew and bacteria.
It has been estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that over 100 million Americans are living in toxic environments caused by biological pollutants. It is recommended that if there has been significant water damage from flooding or if mold and mildew cover more than 10 feet of any surface, to contact a health professional and an experienced contractor. Do you have further questions or need assistance? Fill out the form below so we can help.