The 3 Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants May Surprise You...

Did you know? The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that indoor air can be two-to five-times more polluted than the air outdoors.

Protecting your home's indoor air quality is very important. Many sources of common indoor air pollutants are well-known: Second-hand smoke, carbon monoxide, and radon are the biggest causes for concern. But there are lesser known sources of common indoor air pollutants.

Air Purifiers and Common Indoor Air Pollutants

Homeowners can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on air purifiers. Many advertisements for these products lead customers to believe that it will, as one company claims, deliver a "shock treatment designed to kill mold and bacteria."

The "shock treatment" these companies advertise is actually just an enormous amount of ozone. Although companies selling these air purifiers claim this is an effective treatment, health officials have disagreed. Ozone is the chief component of smog. According to The American Lung Association, it can scar lung tissue, trigger asthma attacks, cause coughing fits and lead to other health problems.

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3 Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants


  • Lead paint is a well-known danger, and has been banned in the US for 30 years. However, older homes may still have lead paint on the walls. Cracking and peeling paint can produce lead-tainted dust that can easily contaminate your indoor air quality.
  • New paints release dangerous organic compounds; and if they are inhaled in low doses over extended periods of time, they can cause serious health hazards.

What you can do: Ventilation is the key to reduce the harm from paints, but the better choice is selecting low-VOC or no-VOC paint in the first place.

Hobby paints and glues can be just as bad, or often worse; so avoid using solvents, glues or paints indoors. If there's no other option, go overboard ventilating the area.


  • Carpets harbor dirt, dust mites, pet dander, mold and other unhealthy contaminates that can irritate the lungs, trigger asthma attacks, or other allergy symptoms.
  • Also, there are certain chemicals used to manufacture carpets that are dangerous. Formaldehyde is the most common, which can irritate respiratory systems and trigger asthma attacks.

What you can do: Clean rugs and carpets regularly with a HEPA (or high efficiency particle air) vacuum. You can also purchase carpets that are made with nontoxic materials (though they can still harbor dirt, dust and dander).

Cleaning Products

  • Lots of off-the-shelf household cleaning solutions contain potent and often toxic ingredients, such as antibiotic pesticide and chlorine.
  • You can also unknowingly introduce unhealthy compounds into the air. It is important to not mix a chlorine-based cleanser with an acid-based cleanser, like vinegar or ammonia. Even cleaning the same surface with one and then the other can release potent compounds into your home's indoor air quality.

What you can do: You can use simple recipes with vinegar, baking soda, etc that will do just as good a job without as many of the harsh irritants for daily use. You can make your own cleaning solutions, too! Check out these safe cleaning recipes.

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