Biological Pollutants in the Home
What Are Biological Pollutants?
- Animal Dander (minute scales from hair, feathers, or skin)
- Dust Mite and Cockroach parts
- Infectious agents (bacteria or viruses)
Biological Pollutants GERMANTOWN, TN & THE MID-SOUTH
The Scope Of The Problem
Health Effects Of Biological Pollutants
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Nasal congestion
- Wheezing and difficulty breathing
Talking to Your Doctor
- Does anyone in the family have frequent headaches, fevers, itchy watery eyes, a stuffy nose, dry throat, or a cough? Does anyone complain of feeling tired or dizzy all the time? Is anyone wheezing or having difficulties breathing on a regular basis?
- Did these symptoms appear after you moved to a new or different home?
- Do the symptoms disappear when you go to school or the office or go away on a trip, and return when you come back?
- Have you recently remodeled your home or done any energy conservation work, such as installing insulation, storm windows, or weather stripping?
- Did your symptoms occur during or after these activities?
- Does your home feel humid? Can you see moisture on the windows or on other surfaces, such as walls and ceilings?
- What is the usual temperature in your home? Is it very hot or cold?
- Have you recently had water damage?
- Is your basement wet or damp?
- Is there any obvious mold or mildew?
- Does any part of your home have a musty or moldy odor?
- Is the air stale?
- Do you have pets?
- Do your house plants show signs of mold?
- Do you have air conditioners or humidifiers that have not been properly cleaned?
- Does your home have cockroaches or rodents?
Self-Inspection: A Walk Through Your Home
Appliances such as humidifiers, kerosene and gas heaters, and gas stoves add moisture to the air. A musty odor, moisture on hard surfaces, or even water stains, may be caused by:
- Air-conditioning units
- Basements, attics, and crawlspaces
- Heating and air-conditioning ducts
- Humidifiers and dehumidifiers
- Refrigerator drip pans
- What You Can Do About Biological Pollutants
There are many ways to control moisture in your home:
Put a plastic cover over dirt crawlspaces to prevent moisture from coming in from the ground. Be sure crawlspaces are well-ventilated.Use exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens to remove moisture to the outside (not into the attic). Vent your clothes dryer to the outside.Turn off certain appliances (such as humidifiers or kerosene heaters) if you notice moisture on windows and other surfaces.Use dehumidifiers and air conditioners, especially in hot, humid climates, to reduce moisture in the air, but be sure that the appliances themselves don't become sources of biological pollutants.
Raise the temperature of cold surfaces where moisture condenses. Use insulation or storm windows. (A storm window installed on the inside works better than one installed on the outside) Open doors between rooms (especially doors to closets which may be colder than the rooms) to increase circulation. Circulation carries heat to the cold surfaces Increase air circulation by using fans and by moving furniture from wall corners to promote air and heat circulation. Be sure that your house has a source of fresh air and can expel excessive moisture from the home.
Pay special attention to carpet on concrete floors. Carpet can absorb moisture and serve as a place for biological pollutants to grow. Use area rugs which can be taken up and washed often. In certain climates, if carpet is to be installed over a concrete floor, it maybe necessary to use a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the concrete and cover that with sub-flooring (insulation covered with plywood) to prevent a moisture problem.
Moisture problems and their solutions differ from one climate to another. The Northeast is cold and wet, the Southwest is hot and dry, the South is hot and wet, and the Western Mountain states are cold and dry. All of these regions can have moisture problems. For example, evaporative coolers used in the Southwest can encourage the growth of biological pollutants. In other hot regions, the use of air conditioners which cool the air too quickly may prevent the air conditioners from running long enough to remove excess moisture from the air. The types of construction and weather for the different climates can lead to different problems and solutions.
Where Biological Pollutants May Be Found in the Home
- Dirty air conditioners
- Dirty humidifiers and/or dehumidifiers
- Bathroom without vents or windows
- Kitchen without vents or windows
- Dirty refrigerator drip pans
- Laundry room with unvented dryer
- Unventilated attic
- Carpet on damp basement floor
- Closet on outside wall
- Dirty heating/air conditioning system
- Dogs or cats
- Water damage (around windows, the roof or the basement)