What Are the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants?

What Are the Most Common Indoor Air Pollutants?

Pollutants inside a building can be up to three or four times the pollutants in outdoor air. Pollution can be harmful to human health and may even damage valuables in your home. It is, therefore, crucial to monitor for signs of poor indoor air quality. Here are some of the common contaminants that could be a hazard in your home.

1. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)

The concentration of VOCs indoors can be up to 10 times higher than the outdoors. That is partly because they come mainly from household products such as perfume, carpets, varnishes, and solvents. There are numerous other items in your home that could be emitting VOCs.

Common household sources of VOCs:

  • Air fresheners and aerosol sprays
  • Paint and vanishes
  • Automotive oils and products
  • Disinfectants and cleansers
  • Pesticides

VOCs can be hazardous in your home due to the adverse health effects they can cause. The intensity of the toxin’s effect will depend on the type of contaminant and the duration of exposure. So it is wise to address the indoor air quality concerns promptly as soon as you detect VOCs.

Some symptoms will be apparent immediately after exposure. Such symptoms include eye and nose irritation, migraines, visual impairment, dizziness, and memory problems. Other signs you may experience include fatigue, nausea, rashes due to allergic reactions, among others.

2. Secondhand Smoke Primarily From Tobacco Products

Smoke from tobacco products has more than 5,000 individual compounds, with 69 being carcinogenic. As such, smoke has potential risks for lung cancer and acute coronary disease.

Particulate matter is one of the thousands of compounds that contributes to indoor air pollution. Even though secondhand smoke has lower risks than smoking, it can have adverse effects, particularly on children. Particulate matter can deposit at the deeper levels of the lungs. As such, it can have a severe impact on the respiratory system.

3. Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas, which is part of the reason it’s so dangerous. Without sensors, it is impossible to detect it until it is too late. At high concentrations, it can have severe adverse effects and is sometimes fatal.

When CO is introduced into the blood, it forms carboxyhemoglobin, a compound that inhibits oxygen uptake. At low to moderate levels, CO poisoning can cause chest pains, dizziness, impaired vision, headaches, and nausea.

CO is formed by combustion equipment, especially if it is not properly installed. For example, space heaters without venting can introduce a lot of carbon monoxide into indoor space. Another source could be exhaust fumes from generators or vehicles in an adjacent garage.

To prevent indoor air pollution, ensure that your combustion appliances are properly adjusted. The equipment should be in a room with adequate ventilation. It is also useful to have CO sensors installed and evaluated if you use gas equipment such as a furnace.

Adhere to routine tune-ups of your central heating system. Regular maintenance by a certified technician can capture issues that could cause indoor pollution. A Crystal Blue Plumbing Heating & Air professional can guide you as you choose indoor air quality solutions in Sacramento.

4. Nitrogen Dioxide from Road Traffic

Nitrogen dioxide is another contaminant commonly found indoors. It is formed during combustion when nitrogen and oxygen react at high temperatures. In households, it is generated from nitric acid, which oxidizes to form the toxin.

The most common culprits that produce nitrogen dioxide are appliances that use diesel, kerosene, or propane. The risk of contamination is higher if these appliances do not have a proper venting system or are poorly maintained.

Other sources of nitrogen dioxide include tobacco smoke and contaminants from the outdoors. The risk of nitrogen dioxide pollution from external sources is higher if your house is near a highway or a busy road. Exhaust fumes from cars are known to have significant quantities of the pollutant. Consider upgrading your air conditioner, or install an air purifier that can capture the contaminants.

5. High Temperature, Pollution, and Microbial Growth

Fungi, mold spores are other pollutants that can cause health problems such as irritation of the respiratory system. The high summer temperatures in Sacramento and vapors trapped between walls or the attic are catalysts for microbial growth. The problem is compounded further by the presence of rodent droppings, mites, and viruses in your home.

Heat also encourages the release of other contaminants such as VOCs. High temperatures make the molecules mobile enough to move around the indoor space. Broken plumbing and ice dams can introduce water that increases the humidity necessary to support microbial growth.

You need to have your AC inspected to ensure it supports sufficient airflow to reduce humidity levels. Depending on the source of the humidity, you may need to install a dehumidifier. Modern devices are efficient at regulating the rate of humidity in your home, which prevents mold spores and bacteria infestation.

6. Lead Particles From Old Paint

Houses built before 1978 have paint that may have unhealthy levels of lead. The paintwork does not pose an indoor air pollution problem unless the paint starts chipping. Aging or renovation activities may release the lead particles from the paint into your home.

Another source of lead particles is from roads and highways, especially if they are near industrial plants. People working in such plants may introduce the contaminant through their clothes. Personnel working in industries are advised to be careful to remove their overalls outside the work environment.

Exposure to lead has many adverse effects. It can accumulate in the liver, kidneys, and bones. Mild to moderate levels of exposure can cause fatigue, behavioral problems, and reduced brain function. In higher quantities, it can cause anemia, seizures, nausea, paralysis, and even death.

Addressing Indoor Air Quality Concerns

Prevention is always better than addressing an existing problem. There are several practical steps you can take to reduce the risk of indoor pollution.

The simplest and most practical step is to improve ventilation. You can keep the doors and windows open if the weather permits. Clear clutter, remove bedding and vacuum your carpet regularly to get rid of pollutants such as pet dander and pollen. In places where you use combustion appliances, consider installing a fan.

The flow of air into your home dilutes the contaminants and keeps the level of contaminant low. That is why you should change your filter at least once a month to ensure it can capture dust and debris. If your AC cycles on and off, or its cooling is insufficient, there could be an issue with airflow. You can consult Crystal Blue Plumbing Heating & Air in Sacramento for an evaluation.

If there are areas with a lot of dampness and high humidity levels, it may be wise to install a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier works to manage high moisture levels in your home. On the other hand, a humidifier is essential if the air is dry. Dry air can be an irritant to the skin and respiratory system and may cause wood items to split and age.

All in all, the best approach is to organize for an evaluation by a certified technician. We are a Trane Home Comfort Specialist, and our team has a reputation for exceptional craftsmanship. We offer indoor air quality solutions such as humidifiers and dehumidifiers. You can rely on Crystal Blue Plumbing Heating & Air for top-rated heating and cooling solutions in Sacramento.

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Why Does My Bathroom Smell Like Sewage?

Why Does My Bathroom Smell Like Sewage?

If you walk into your bathroom and you notice a sewer-like odor that won’t go away even after ventilation or using air fresheners, chances are that sewer gases are escaping from the drain. Such an issue requires immediate attention. The primary gas in a sewer system is methane, and if it leaks into your house in large volumes, it can cause nausea, dizziness, loss of coordination, or suffocation.

Even worse in high concentrations, methane gas is flammable and can cause an explosion. The first step to protecting your house occupants from such smells is by spotting the source. Take a look at the following possible causes of a sewer-like smell in your bathroom.

1. Biofilm Accumulation in the Shower Drain

During a shower, people use various products, including shampoo, conditioners, exfoliants, shaving creams, and soaps. When you wash away these elements together with dead skin and hair fragments down the drain, they form a clog. Such conditions attract bacteria growth on the sides of your pipes. The bacteria will begin to decompose the debris, emitting awful smells that spread all through your bathroom.

Fortunately, you can solve this issue on your own. Take out the shower drain cover using a screwdriver, and then, pour in hot water slowly. Next, add 1 cup of vinegar, followed by 1/2 cup of baking soda. After around two hours, pour in 1 gallon of hot water, use a drain brush to clear off any other remaining debris, and then screw back the drain cover. If you don’t wish to do all the dirty work or if the problem persists, reach out to a professional.

2. Water Evaporation in the P-trap

Another common cause of awful odors in your bathroom is a dry P-trap. It’s a U-shaped pipe located under the sink that traps and holds water to prevent gases from the sewer system from seeping into your house. If you fail to use your taps regularly, water might evaporate from the P-trap, and it can dry out over time. When the barrier preventing gas leaks is no longer there, you will experience a sewer smell in your bathroom.

You can quickly resolve this issue by turning on your taps and letting the water flow for about 10 minutes to refill the P-trap. If the smell doesn’t go away, pour 1 cup of water and a little baking soda into every drain in the house. If the odor remains, you could be dealing with a significant issue like P-trap leaks, which require professional attention.

3. Grim Buildup in the Sink

The sewer smell in your bathroom can also come from the sink. Most times, it happens when the pipe leading to the P-trap gets clogged. Because of the moist conditions, the sink can quickly accumulate mildew and grime in the overflow area, resulting in unpleasant odors.

To solve this issue, scrub your sink’s interior part with a brush thoroughly. Next, pour in a mixture of hydrochloric acid with water into the hole or any other cleaning agent, leave it for a while, and then rinse. If this fails to work, contact a plumbing technician to examine your sink.

4. Bacterial Accumulation in the Water Tank

If you smell the sewer odors only when using hot water, there could be a problem with your water heater. Bacteria colonies may form in the tank if you fail to use it often or when you set the water heater temperature too low. It results in a strong rotten egg-like smell throughout the bathroom. To fix this issue, set your water heater temperature to the maximum, and then, flush out the water to eliminate the bacteria. You can repeat the process as many times as you need to until the smell clears out.

5. Toilet Damage

The sewer-like smells could also be coming from the toilet. If you can smell a nasty odor coming from the walls near the toilet, your home could have an improperly installed vent pipe or a pipe that is damaged. The vent pipe’s primary role is to send odors outside your home. In case the plumber installs it improperly or if it develops a crack, it could leak the sewer smell back to the bathroom. Have a professional plumber solve the issue with the vent pipe. They can quickly diagnose the problem, trace the issue, repair the leak or reinstall the pipe.

The problem could also occur because of a loose or broken seal. When your toilet bowl doesn’t fill up naturally, it’s a clear sign of a broken seal. Sometimes, when a seal leaks water, it causes a pool around the toilet, which attracts bacterial growth and results in a foul smell.

Additionally, when you have a loose toilet bowl, it can damage the wax ring allowing sewer smells to spread through your bathroom. You can sort this problem by applying fresh caulk to the toilet seals. If you have a wobbly toilet bowl, replace the wax ring. Seek professional help if the entire toilet appears broken.

6. Odors in Your Water

If the bathroom smells terrible while using cold and hot water, there could be a water source problem. High hydrogen sulfide levels in water can lead to an awful odor throughout the bathroom. Immediately contact your local water testing lab to have it examined for potential contaminants.

7. Extremely Cold Weather

If you live in icy regions, the weather can significantly contribute to sewer-like smells in your bathroom. Ice may build up in the vent pipes, trapping odors inside. It will begin to seep back into the house. One way to solve this is by pouring hot water into the drains to melt the ice blockages. You can also insulate the vent pipes. Talk to your plumber to come up with the best possible solution.

8. Odors From the Washing Machine

If you cannot locate the sewer odor source in your bathroom, check your washing machine. It also contains a P-trap, and when improperly installed, it results in an awful smell. You might have installed the flexible hose too far into the drain box, which hinders the P-trap’s functionality, so odors seep into your bathroom. To correct this, pull out the drain hose. The machine’s drain line may also clog, attracting bacterial growth that results in awful smells. Use a drain snake to clear out such debris.

Contact the Professionals

Sewer smells in the bathroom are very unpleasant, and when neglected, they can lead to some health issues. Therefore, start investigating the smell source as soon as you notice it, and quickly take action. For some minor cases, you can eliminate sewer smells from your bathroom on your own. However, some significant tasks are beyond a homeowner’s expertise and require professional help to prevent damaging your plumbing system.

If you are struggling with awful smells in your bathroom, you can reach out to Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating & Air. We are always ready to help identify the stench’s cause and restore a natural smell in your bathroom. Our company also offers various services including air conditioner and heating systems installation, repair and maintenance services. We also deal with indoor air quality, humidification, duct repair, and replacement services. If you reside in Sacramento, CA, and the surrounding regions, get in touch with our team now and book an appointment to enjoy any of our services.