Biological Pollutants In Your Home

Outdoor air pollution is a significant health problem in cities & can increase the risk of cancer. Lots of money and effort are spent on cleaning the pollution in the outdoor air. If you think that your home is the safest place, but it’s not. Air pollution can be a problem at your home too. Many ordinary activities can cause the release and spread of indoor pollutants at home. Some everyday activities are cooking, heating, cooling, cleaning, and redecorating, etc. According to the studies, it is assumed that indoor air pollutants are more polluted than outdoor air.
On average, Americans spend up to 90 percent of their time staying indoors, often at home. Indoor air pollutants can leave a significant impact on your health. Therefore, breathing clean indoor air is essential to lead a healthy life.

What Are Biological Pollutants?

Biological pollutants are environmental substances that come from living organisms and can affect our health. These substances can travel through the air and are often unseen. Some of them can even damage the inside or outside surfaces of your house.

Some Common Indoor Biological Pollutants Are:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Animal dander
  • Cat saliva
  • House dust, mites
  • Cockroaches,
  • Pollen.
Some of these substances can be found in every home. It isn’t easy to get rid of them all. Even the cleanest home may permit the growth of these microorganisms. Nutrients and Moisture are two conditions that support the natural growth of these biological pollutants. From the bathroom, flooded basement to wet appliances and carpet, these conditions can be found anywhere.
Modern materials and construction techniques may lessen the amount of outside air brought into buildings that cause high moisture levels inside. The use of humidifiers, unvented heaters, and air conditioners may increase the moisture forming on the interior surface in our home. This raises the rate of certain biological pollutants.

The Scope Of The Problem

Most of the information about the effects of biological pollutants comes from large office buildings in the northern U.S. and Canada. According to these surveys, approximately 30-50% of all structures have damp conditions. This may encourage the growth of biological contaminants.
Some diseases or illnesses like humidifier fever are associated with biological pollutants in the indoor environment. However, many of them also have causes irrelevant to the indoor environment. Therefore, it is hard to determine how many health problems relate only to poor indoor air quality.

Health Effects Of Biological Pollutants

We all have experienced biological pollutants in our daily life. However, biological pollutions in our health may vary depending on the type and amount of biological pollution and the person. Some people may not get effect from certain biological pollutants, while others may face one or more of the following reactions:
  • Infectious
  • Allergic
  • Toxic
One of the most common health problems with indoor air quality in homes is ALLERGIC REACTIONS. They are often associated with animal dander (mostly from cats and dogs), house dust mites (microscopic animals living in household dust), and pollen. Allergic reactions can range from mild conditions to life-threatening, as in a severe asthma attack. Some most common symptoms are:
  • Itching
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
Health experts show more concerned for people with asthma. These people have susceptible airways that can react to various irritants, making breathing difficult. In recent years, the number of people who have asthma has considerably increased. . 334 million people are suffering from Asthama. The number of deaths from asthma has grown by 68 percent since 1979, to almost 4,400 deaths per year.

Talking To Your Doctor

Are you worried about the effects of biological pollutants on your health? Before you talk to the doctor about your concern, you should know the answers to the following questions. This information can help your doctor in tracking whether your health problems are related to biological pollution or not.
  • Do anyone in your family facing continuous headaches, cough, fevers, itchy watery eyes, a stuffy nose, cough, or a dry throat? Does anyone in the family complain of feeling tired all the time? Is anyone wheezing or having difficulties breathing regularly?
  • Do your house plants show signs of mold?
  • Did these symptoms come when you shift to a new or different place?
  • Do the symptoms goes away when you go to school or the office or on a trip and comes when you return?
  • Do you recently remodeled your home or done any energy conservation work, such as installing insulation, storm windows, or weather stripping? Did you get these symptoms during or after these activities?
  • Do you see moisture or humidity on the windows or other surfaces, like walls and ceilings of your home?
  • What is the normal temperature in your home? Is it very hot or cold?
  • Have you recently had water damage?
  • Is your basement wet?
  • Is there any noticeable mold or mildew?
  • Is there any musty or moldy odor in your home?
  • Is the air stale?
  • Do you own a pet?
  • Are there any air conditioners or humidifiers that have not been appropriately cleaned?
  • Are there cockroaches or rodents in your home?
INFECTIOUS DISEASES mainly caused by viruses and bacteria, such as chickenpox, tuberculosis, flu, & measles, may be spread indoors. Most contagious diseases transfer from one person to another through physical contact. Crowded conditions having poor air circulation can increase this spread. Some bacteria and viruses grow in buildings and circulate through indoor ventilation systems. For instance, the bacterium causing Legionnaire’s disease, a severe and sometimes Pontiac Fever, a flu-like illness, & a lethal infection may circulate in some large buildings.
TOXIC REACTIONS come in the category of the least studied health problems caused by some biological air pollutants in the home. Toxins can harm various organs and tissues such as the liver, the central nervous system, the immune system, and your body’s digestive tract.

Coping With The Problem

Checking Your Home

The more accessible and the most cheaper way to assess the level of all biological pollutants is to gather a sample of the air in your home. Well, according to experts, sampling for biological containments is not an effective problem-solving tool. Even if you test your home, it is almost impossible to determine which biological pollutant(s) cause health problems.
Do you feel hopeless because of this problem? On the contrary, you can use few easy & practical actions to help remove biological pollutants sources, help get rid of contaminants and prevent their return.

Self-Inspection: A Walk Through Your Home

Self-inspection is the best way! Start by touring your home. Follow your nose, and use your eyes. Nutrients and constant moisture with poor air circulation are the two significant factors that help create conditions for biological pollutants.
Dust and construction materials allow biological pollutants to grow., These include wood, wallboard, and insulation. Firewood is also a source of fungi, moisture, and bugs.
Kerosene and gas heaters, appliances such as humidifiers, and gas stoves add moisture to the air.
A moldy odor, water stains, or moisture on hard surfaces may be caused by:
  • Carpets
  • Refrigerator drip pans
  • Heating and air-conditioning ducts
  • Air-conditioning units
  • Basements, attics, and crawlspaces
  • Bathrooms
  • Humidifiers and dehumidifiers

What You Can Do About Biological Pollutants

Before you think of taking a drastic step such as giving away the family pet, few easy steps can help in reducing the potential problems. You can mitigate this problem by properly cleaning and maintaining your home. People with health problems such as asthma or allergy may need to do this frequently and more. Discuss this with your doctor!

Moisture Control

Water can enter your home from various sources. Water can enter your home by seeping through basement floors or leakage. Even cooking or showers can moisture the air of your home. The air moisture level depends on the temperature of the air inside. The air holds less moisture when the temperature goes down. This is why, in cold weather, moisture condenses on hard surfaces, which can encourage biological pollutants to increase.

There Are Many Ways To Control Moisture In Your Home:

  • To reduce moisture in the air, especially in summer, use dehumidifiers and air conditioners; keep in mind that the appliances themselves don’t become sources of biological pollutants.
  • If you want to prevent moisture from the ground, it is advised to put a plastic cover over dirt crawlspaces. Always ensure that crawlspaces are well-ventilated.
  • When it comes to removing moisture to the outside, use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens. Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
  • If you see moisture on windows and other surfaces, turn off certain appliances (such as kerosene heaters o humidifiers).
  • Fix seepage & leaks. If water comes from the outside, your options range from simple landscaping to extensive excavation and waterproofing. Leakage from pipes or sinks & tubs can provide a place for biological pollutants to grow.
  • Increase the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses to prevent it from condensing. Use storm windows or insulation. Install the storm window on the inside rather than installing it on the outside. (Installing storm windows inside works better). To increase circulation, open doors between rooms (especially doors to closets because they might be colder than the rooms). Increase air circulation because it carries heat to the hard surfaces. To promote air and heat circulation, use fans and moving furniture from wall corners. Make sure that your house has a source of fresh air and can expel extreme moisture from home.
  • It is also essential to pay special attention to the carpet on concrete floors because they absorb moisture and encourage biological pollutants to grow. Use area rugs that can be taken up and often washed. Suppose the carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor in certain climates. In that case, using a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete is a must, and cover that with sub-flooring to prevent a moisture problem.

Where Biological Pollutants May Be Found In The Home?

  • Dogs or cats
  • Water damage (around windows, the roof, or the basement)
  • Dirty refrigerator drip pans
  • Bedding
  • Closet on the outside wall
  • Unventilated attic
  • Dirty air conditioners
  • Dirty humidifiers and dehumidifiers
  • Laundry room with unvented dryer
  • Bathroom without vents or windows
  • Kitchen without vents or windows
  • Carpet on the damp basement floor
  • Dirty heating/air conditioning system

Clean & Maintain All Appliances That Come In Contact With Water

  • Before seasonal use, clean your home’s major appliances, such as furnaces, heat pumps, and central air conditioners, by a professional. Change filters of your HVAC according to the systems manufacturer’s directions.
  • Servicing the window or wall air-conditioning units by a professional is crucial to reduce the entry of allergy-causing pollen.
  • Have furnace-attached humidifiers? Servicing it by a professional, especially before the heating season, is critical to mitigating the risk of biological pollutants.
  • Empty dehumidifiers should be cleaned often.

Clean Surfaces

  • Clean moist surfaces, such as kitchen counters & showers.
  • Kill mold from walls, ceilings, floors, and paneling. It is advised not to cover mold with stain, varnish, paint, or a moisture-proof sealer, as it may resurface.
  • Take off the moldy shower curtains and clean well with a household cleaner and rinse before rehanging them.

Before You Move

Before you move to your new home, inspect it to protect yourself. If you find problems, contact the landlord or seller to correct them before moving in.
  • Have professionals check the HVAC system, including humidifiers and vents.
  • Check for vents & exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Look for evident mold growth throughout the house, including basements, and crawlspaces, attics, and around the foundation.
  • Look for leaks, seepage, stains on the walls, floor, or carpet as evidence of previous flooding or moisture problems.
  • If you or your family member has a pet allergy, ask the homeowner or seller if any pets (dogs or cats) have lived in the home.
  • Look if there are any signs of cockroaches.


Before beginning cleaning procedures, read instructions carefully for use and any cautionary labeling on cleaning products.
  • Do not mix any chemical products, especially those cleaners that contain bleach (such as ammonia). When chemicals are blended, a harmful gas can be formed.
  • Household chemicals may irritate or burn your eyes & skin.
  • Household chemicals may be dangerous if inhaled or swallowed.
  • Avoid contact with skin, eyes, and clothing.
  • Open all windows and doors to avoid breathing vapor. You can also use an exhaust fan that sends the air outside.
  • Keep household chemicals away from children.
  • To remove all traces of chemicals, rinse treated surface areas well.
  • Fixing Water Damage

Solution if the damage is already done

Follow these tips for correcting water damage:
  • Discard mattresses, wicker furniture, straw baskets, and the like have been water damaged or contain mold.
  • Remove any water-damaged furnishings such as carpets, drapes, upholstered furniture, stuffed toys, and ceiling tales unless they can be recovered by cleaning, rinsing, and thorough drying.

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