Create Your Own Indoor Air Quality Action Plan

As an individual who spends the majority of my time indoors, I understand the importance of good indoor air quality. The air that we breathe in our homes, offices, and schools can put us at risk for adverse health effects. Pollutants can come from a number of indoor sources, including chemicals, gases, and living organisms such as mold and pests. Identifying these indoor pollutants and removing them is the only solution to achieving good indoor air quality.

Of the many sources of poor air quality in our homes, most are simply eye and respiratory irritants, while others can cause increased allergies and increased agitation of preexisting medical conditions such as asthma. Other pollutants like radon gas can cause serious medical conditions like heart problems, cancer, and other serious long-term health problems. Some toxins, such as carbon monoxide, can cause death.

Educating yourself and your family about indoor pollutants can significantly reduce the risks of indoor pollutants and is the first step to creating your own indoor air quality action plan.

Radon Gas

This radioactive gas is formed in soil and accumulates in every corner of the globe. When radon gas enters a home through cracks or crevices in building surfaces in contact with the ground, radon gas can build up. Proper ventilation and monthly air-outs can reduce radon gas. Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

Combustible Pollutants

These gases come from burning materials, fossil fuels being the worse. Improperly vented or unvented wood stoves, space heaters, dryers, stoves, ovens, and other fuel-burning appliances release nitrogen dioxide, which is a mild irritant that can cause reactions in allergic asthma suffers and irritate the throat, nose, and eyes. Much worse, carbon monoxide can be released, causing problems with oxygen delivery throughout the body. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and even death can result.


Otherwise known as volatile organic compounds, VOCs can be found in paints, stains, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, floor waxes, pesticides, air fresheners, furniture, carpets, and dry-cleaned clothes. Effects on the body range from mild eye, nose, and throat irritations to damage to the kidneys, liver, and central nervous system and even cancer.

According to the EPA, the air inside your home is 2-5 times more toxic than the air outside, regardless of whether your home is located in a rural or industrial area. Given that some of the indoor toxins or VOCs (volatile organic compounds) are allergens and suspected carcinogens, they have the potential to affect your health negatively.

Asthma Triggers

Typically organic materials trigger asthma, even in cases where asthma has never been a factor. Mold, mildew, pet dander, dust mites, and household pests react as asthma triggers in children and adults alike. Fever-like conditions caused by mold spores have been noted, as well as some serious skin rashes have been reported due to organic elements in the home.

To improve indoor air quality in your home and limit your exposure to potentially harmful volatile organic compounds, think twice about the type of products you bring into your home. If you are looking to renovate, consider scheduling at a time when your home will be unused or at a time of year when you can adequately ventilate your home. Switch to earth-friendly cleaning products, and in the interest of improving indoor air quality, decorate your home with living air filters-plants!

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About the author
Ben White has written thousands of articles on everything home improvement. He has had the privilege of writing for such websites as the Huffington Post, DeWalt,, HGTV, and many others.

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