How Winter Weather Causes Indoor Air Pollution

winter-weather-indoor-air-pollution

It's wintertime again and the weather has turned cold. When the winter weather hits, does your family stay indoors and turn up the furnace? Most people do, but sealing off your house like this can keep the bad air in.

Keeping your house shut up tightly doesn't allow for much air circulation. Indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. Here’s how winter weather causes more indoor air pollution and what you can do about it.

Increased Carbon Monoxide Levels

During the winter months, your home can see higher carbon monoxide levels due to a faulty furnace, fireplace, and other appliances that burn fuel. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that November, December, January, and February are the months with the highest incidences of carbon monoxide poisoning. The lack of air circulation combined with faulty appliances can be deadly to you and your family. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning includes headache, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and chest pain.

Circulating Dust and Dirt

Is the air that you're breathing clean, or is it full of dust and dirt? If you have a lot of dust inside your house, that dust is being recirculated and put back into the air you breathe. This can be especially problematic if you or someone in your family have conditions which affect their breathing such as allergies, asthma, COPD, chronic bronchitis, or other health problems. The dust in your home and ducts may exacerbate other health problems as well. Keeping your home clean is certainly a good idea.

Dusting and vacuuming frequently will cut down on some of the dust in the air, but if your furnace air filter is dirty, your furnace isn't running clean, or you have dirty ductwork, those can contribute to more dust and dirt in your home.

family enjoying clean air

More Exposure to Indoor Air

But dirt, dust, and carbon monoxide aren't the only hazards in your indoor air. You're breathing the chemicals from cleaners, VOCs or volatile organic compounds, and spores from mold. All these pollutants in your air can make you very sick. In fact, normal things such as carpeting and furniture often outgas some pretty noxious stuff, and you and your family are breathing it in all the time.

Another cause of air pollution in your home is something called the "stack effect." Warm air rises, which causes air from the lower levels of your house move into the upper levels. The stack effect is the same type of movement of air you see in a chimney. This air movement causes a compounding of problems when it comes to pollution. Air from your basement and crawl spaces move upward into your living areas, bringing with it all the dust, mold, and chemicals with it.

There's also radon gas -- a deadly type of radioactive gas that causes lung cancer. Radon is found naturally in the soil in many places. When homes are built in an area with natural radon, the gas has nowhere to go except into the home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that one out of 15 homes have radon gas levels above the recommended limit.

Temperature Inversion

Lastly, many places around the country experience what is known as a temperature inversion. That's where a layer of warm air sits above a much colder air and forces it downward. The cold air becomes trapped--along with all the air pollutants--and makes the air outside more polluted, as the gases and particulates have no place to go. So even with fresh air, your home can have smog, carbon dioxide, and smoke linger inside.

How to Tell if You Have Poor Indoor Air

  • Headaches
  • Stuffy nose/ Sore throat
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Feeling sick

How to Fix Indoor Air Pollution

  • Have your furnace maintained and checked out by professionals before winter weather hits
  • Change all filters in your furnace to ensure cleaner air
  • Have professionals clean out your ductwork
  • Install carbon monoxide sensors on every floor of your home to alert you to possible danger
  • Have your home tested for radon and have it mitigated if the levels are high
  • Keep your home clean and dust free

Keep your family safe during the winter months by investing in a top-of-the-line heating system. Discuss your options with a specialist from iHeartAmana, we’re here to help. Specialists are people who can work with you to identify the problem and provide a solution. We can be a part of the solution. Indoor air quality is important to every home, especially in the colder months.

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