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Is Your Home Making You Sick? The Common Indoor Air Pollutants Worth Knowing

Close Up of Person Smoking a Cigarette - Cates Heating and Cooling

It’s easy to recognize air pollution in the great outdoors. From the diesel truck in front of you spewing toxic fumes into the air to the factory belching smoke and noxious gases, the signs of air pollution are all too obvious. But what about the air inside your home?

The EPA has identified that the air inside our homes can be around five times more polluted than the air outside, but it’s hard to know what to look for and how to find a healthier solution. We’re here to uncover the mystery, explore the most common indoor pollutants and help you take steps to minimize their impact on your family’s health.


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carbon-based chemicals that can evaporate and spread throughout the air in a room, a home, or even a large city. Many everyday household items emit VOCs, including paints, cleaning and craft supplies, pesticides, office equipment, furniture, and building materials. Some VOCs make their presence known by their potent, chemical-like smell, yet other organic chemicals are odorless. High concentrations of VOCs in the home can lead to various health problems; homeowners with asthma and other respiratory issues are more sensitive to the effects of these organic chemicals. Outside the home, VOCs contribute to the formation of smog, which in turn causes even more health problems for the population at large. Ensure your paints, crafts and other home materials or equipment are VOC-free to ensure this pollutant remains avoidable. 



Radon is a radioactive gas found in certain types of soil. It’s the second leading cause of lung cancer in the US and can be found in all 50 states. It may enter the home through cracks or openings in the floor, walls, and underneath doorways. Test your home with a DIY radon kit, and call a mitigation specialist if there is a problem. You can prevent issues with radon by properly sealing your home. Have a technician check your property for leaks and cracks near your yard. Door sealants may be necessary if you have a wide opening between your entranceways and frames.


Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide is a colorless gas found in cigarette smoke, vehicle exhaust, and industrial sources. It may cause inflammation of the airways and lungs and irritation to the eyes and skin. Nitrogen dioxide can also lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Long-term exposure can result in kidney damage.


Second-Hand Smoke

This pollutant is only a problem in homes with smokers, but the effects are serious. Burning any type of tobacco product increases the concentration of second-hand smoke. Over time, it can cause cancer and respiratory illnesses. Children are most vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke and may develop asthma or suffer from an increased risk of infections.

To eliminate both second-hand smoke and nitrogen dioxide from your home, do not permit anyone to smoke indoors. Even opening a window does not ensure that all the second-hand smoke goes outside. If you smoke or have a smoker in your home, go to the patio or yard when burning tobacco, and close doors and windows. 



Formaldehyde is a colorless gas that can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. It is also known to be a carcinogen. Formaldehyde can be found in many household products, including cosmetics, personal care, wood, paper, and fabrics so ensure you check labels before purchasing new products.


Biological Pollutants

Biological pollutants are actual living organisms that can be found in the air. They can include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microscopic organisms. These biological pollutants can cause various health problems for humans and animals alike. To minimize the spreading of disease through harmful microbes, ensure you keep your house clean, including wiping high-touch surfaces, doing laundry regularly, and circulating clean, filtered air through your home. 



Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals resistant to heat and fire. It was once used in many building materials, such as insulation and roofing shingles. However, asbestos has since been banned in many countries because it can become hazardous when disturbed. For example, if you disturb asbestos dust while working on home renovations or scraping away old paint, the dust may get released into the air. The EPA recommends using proper safety equipment when working around any asbestos-containing material (ACM).


Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas released from burning materials in improperly vented appliances. Your home may accumulate carbon monoxide when using fireplaces, gas stoves, water heaters, or dryers. High concentrations of this gas interfere with the way your body circulates oxygen. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dizziness, headaches, muscle weakness, and nausea. In severe cases, this pollutant is fatal. If you experience any of the above symptoms, you must call an expert immediately and have your home tested for harmful gases. A certified technician may need to adjust your appliances or improve ventilation to eliminate the problem.


Taking a Proactive Approach to Indoor Air Pollution

If you want to protect yourself and your family, it’s time to take a proactive approach to indoor air quality. You do not have to live like a pauper or give up your creature comforts to enjoy a healthier and cleaner home. Simply sign up for the Cates Complete Care package. This plan allows you to schedule service calls as needed so that we can keep an eye on any potential problems and fix them before they become serious issues. The Cates Complete Care package also covers financing and regular checkups by our expert technicians to keep everything in top condition.

Whether you want to reduce your household’s carbon footprint or just live healthier, signing up for our Cates Complete Care plan is the best way to get started! Contact us today.

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