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Many people feel safer in the comforts of their home, particularly when it comes to any kind of pollution. The outside world can be filled with dust, smog, haze, and other potentially harmful pollutants, which is why many people feel like their indoor air is clean and safe for them to breathe.

While it may seem that your home’s indoor air quality is far better than the outdoors, this is not entirely true. In some cases, indoors tend to be more polluted than the outdoors. The air in our homes can be filled with chemicals from home cleaners and fire-control equipment. In fact, there is a high probability that your home has a heating system that retains allergens indoors. It is not always possible to open the windows to air out your home. However, there are numerous ways for you to improve your home’s air quality:

1.   Regularly Clean Your Home

Air pollution in your home will be significantly reduced once you make cleaning a part of your routine. For one, you will see an immediate reduction of dust, pet dander, and other potential allergens. Start by having a regular schedule of vacuuming your carpets and rugs. Make sure you have a vacuum that comes with suitable filters. If you plan to renovate your home, it will help to replace the carpet flooring with hardwood or tiles to reduce the presence of air allergens.

In addition to cleaning your carpets regularly, you should also pay careful attention to your curtains, cushions, sofas, and bedding. If you have pets that stay indoors, make sure to clean their area, mainly where they spend most of their time. It will also help to reduce your clutter that can accumulate dust.

2.   Change Your AC Filters

Your home’s heating, venting, and air-conditioning system work year-round to make sure that your entire family enjoys the perfect temperature. Part of its function is to maintain the proper air cycle in your home by filtering the air pollutants. That’s why it is necessary to practice proper maintenance of the AC filters. Failure to clean these filters can lead to clogging and eventual breakage, which will drastically drop your home’s air quality.

3.   Air Your Plants

Having indoor plants offers many benefits. Aside from improving the overall appearance of your home, they also improve your air quality. However, they can also be prone to become a breeding ground for mold, dust, and other pests. That’s why it is essential to air them once in a while. It will help if you can bring your plants outside at least twice a week to get the necessary sunlight and air they need.

4.   Air Out Your Home

Indoor air can become stale if there is not steady airflow in your home. Whenever possible, it is best to air out your home. Open your windows to let the air circulate. However, if it is not possible, particularly during the winter season, you can use trickle vents instead. They are highly beneficial for homes in urban settings where the outdoor air is full of smog, smoke, and dust. Having them in your bathroom and kitchen helps, as these areas need it the most.

5.   Avoid Smoking Inside

If you live with a smoker, instruct them to smoke outside of your home. The smoke from cigarettes has over 4,000 harmful chemicals, which can cause cancer, infections, and asthma. If possible, quitting is a better option for everyone.

Maintaining good indoor air quality is crucial for one’s health. Following the above tips will ensure that your home is both clean and safe.

Mold is not unique to any business, building or structure. Mold can grow anywhere, affecting everyone from tenants, pets and employees to homeowners, property managers and building owners. In recent decades, increased awareness of the dangers of mold has made this spongy fungi more unwelcome than ever.

In fact, in an Institute of Medicine study on building dampness and mold, experts found that about half of U.S. homes have visible evidence of a dampness problem or mold contamination. They also found that 45 percent of U.S. office buildings had water leaks and 30 percent of schools had plumbing problems—all of which provide fertile breeding grounds for mold.

So what does this mean for building owners? To help you understand its effects, let’s break down everything you need to know about mold exposures.

Image source Pixabay

What are molds?

Molds are fungi that are commonly found both indoors and outdoors. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, no one knows how many species of fungi exist—but estimates range from tens of thousands to three hundred thousand or more.

While some molds can produce toxins, the mold itself is not toxic or poisonous. The term mildew refers to a particular mold—a white or grayish compound that often grows in shower stalls or bathrooms.

Where is mold found?
You can find mold in almost every environment. While mold grows best in warm, damp conditions (where mold is most likely to spread and reproduce), spores—the reproductive unit of molds and other fungi—can also survive in harsh, dry conditions that don’t usually support mold growth. Common locations include:

  • Inside: Showers, basements or other high-humidity places.
  • Outside: Damp or shady areas or spots with decomposing leaves.

What are the health dangers of mold exposures?
Here are some of the things you can expect from mold exposure:

  • Mild sensitivity. Some people are a little sensitive to molds and may have symptoms such as red, itchy eyes, wheezing, a stuffy nose or irritated skin.
  • Severe reactions. If someone is allergic to mold or suffers from asthma, their symptoms may be more dramatic. Severe reactions are also common in workers who have been around large amounts of mold for extended periods of time — like farmers working near moldy hay, or hospitality employees who spend a lot of time in an infected building.

    These symptoms may include shortness of breath or fever. In some cases, mold or dampness can lead to the development of asthma.

  • Weakened immune reactions. Mold infections are most common in people with weakened immune systems. If someone is receiving cancer treatment, medicines to suppress their immune system or need or recently received an organ transplant, that person is at much higher risk.

How mold affects property owners
If an owner does not prevent, contain or remediate mold properly, the consequences can be grave. Here are a few of the things you risk if your property has high levels of mold exposures:

  • If mold has infested a property, tenants may choose to seek legal action—especially if the mold is toxic. Toxic mold lawsuits are known to be very complicated and can pull in a wide array of plaintiffs, defendants, witnesses and specific medical and scientific experts. This can quickly become debilitatingly expensive. Mold in the Broward County (Fla.) Courthouse, for example, led to a $166,500 settlement payment and another 19 lawsuits.
  • High costs. Often, professionals can clean up mold before it becomes a health hazard. But in other cases, particularly if you cannot identify the source of the mold growth, it can become a persistent, costly challenge. Not only will you have to clean and remove the mold, but mold removal companies may have to correct your moisture issue by installing proper ventilation and drainage systems.
  • Property damage. Due to its ability to decompose matter, mold can drastically alter the appearance and structure of your home—ultimately lowering the property’s value. Few buyers or renters are interested in investing in facilities with mold infestations (without a healthy discount, at least).

  • Damaged reputation. Even if you go through all of the processes and procedures to properly remove mold, human fear will kick in. Most people won’t want to be in a place known for mold problems—which means your business, and reputation, could take a severe hit.

When it comes to limiting mold exposures and the serious damages that occur with it, be proactive—test for air quality, get your ventilation system inspected and make sure you’re adequately insured. If you do suspect you have a mold problem, it’s crucial that you address it right away.