Common Indoor Air Quality Problems#
Common problems found in homes can trigger health problems, especially in those with respiratory ailments.
Radon is an invisible, odorless, radioactive gas created during the natural decay of uranium in the soil. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and can be found everywhere. Colorado is in Zone 1 for radon, meaning that Colorado homes are statistically more likely to have high levels for radon. Radon is drawn into homes and other buildings through cracks and openings in basements, crawl spaces and slabs. Radon levels vary from house to house and have nothing to do with age, quality or upkeep of the home.
Here are some additional resources to learn more about radon:
- City of Fort Collins: What is Radon?
- CDPHE: Testing and Mitigating Your Home for Radon
- HUD: About Radon
- EPA: Radon
- CDC: Protect Yourself and Your Family from Radon
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that can cause asthma attacks which restrict the ability to breathe. Asthma attacks can be triggered by many indoor and outdoor environmental factors. Although there is no cure for asthma, asthma can be controlled through the management of triggers commonly found inside of homes; for example, mold, pests, dust, etc.
Household products that you bring into your home contain chemicals that can contaminate the air you breathe. Some of the health effects include: eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, and damage to nervous system. Consider replacing products labeled Caution, Hazard or Poison with healthy or natural alternatives. Look for the EPA safer choice label on cleaning products.
- Healthy Homes Recipe Book
- Fort Collins Utilities: Hazardous Waste Collection
- Larimer County Landfill: Household Hazardous Waste
- EPA: Safer Choice
- CDC Indoor Environmental Quality
- HUD: About Home Safety
- OSHA: Chemical Hazards and Toxic Substances
- National Institutes of Health: Household Products Database
Particulate matter, sometimes referred to as dust, is solid particles that often consist of dirt and soil but can also contain ash, soot, chemicals, and other materials.
Healthy Homes encourages Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques for the control of pests in and around your home. IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on the prevention and elimination of pests by utilizing the least toxic methods to protect your family from harmful pesticides. Pests need food, water and shelter to survive. Eliminating food and moisture sources, and closing off entry points will go a long way towards keeping pests out.
Molds spores naturally occur in our environment, however, mold can begin growing indoors when the spores come in contact with wet surfaces. There are a variety of molds, but molds will not grow without water or moisture. Molds produce allergens which can cause an allergic reaction and asthma attacks. When cleaning up mold, consider the size of the problem. If the area is less than 3 by 3 feet, it can be cleaned using the natural mold killer found in the Healthy Homes Recipe Book. Always use a mask while cleaning. Otherwise, seek professional help.
Lead is a highly toxic metal that may cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. When lead is absorbed into the body, it can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs. Lead may also cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and in extreme cases, death. Some symptoms of lead poisoning may include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, tiredness and irritability. Homes built before 1978 are of particular concern for cracked and peeling paint. Dust from cracked and peeling paint can permeate the air you breathe inside your home.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous material that was a popular building material from the 1950s to 1990s and is still in limited use today. It is now known that asbestos can cause many forms of cancer. Disturbed asbestos (cracked or broken) can cause harmful particles to infiltrate the air in your home. Professional assistance with testing and removal of asbestos is strongly encouraged.
Take Action and Improve Indoor Air Quality#
The Healthy Homes program provides resources to help address indoor air quality issues. Visit our home assessments page where you can learn how to use our Healthy Homes Do-It-Yourself app, or schedule an in-home assessment with our Healthy Homes Educators.