Understanding Indoor Air Pollutants

A host of different biological, gas, and particulate pollutants can affect the indoor air quality.  The types of contaminants and the amounts that are suspended in the air determine air quality.

Biological Air Pollutants

Biological pollutants are or were living organisms. While all of us are exposed to biological pollutants in one form or another, the effects on our health depend upon the type and amount of biological pollution and the individual person.  Two conditions are essential to support biological growth – nutrients and moisture.  Keeping an area clean and dry is the best method to prevent biological air pollutants.

Common biological air pollutants:

  • Pet Hair & Pet Dander
  • Mold
  • Dust Mites
  • Pollen
  • Cockroach parts

Chemical & Gas Air Pollutants

Chemical and gas pollutants are the most hazardous of all air pollutants as they are often odorless, tasteless and invisible.  Ensuring proper exhaust, using building products with low levels of volatile organic compounds, and prohibiting smoking indoors are the best methods for preventing chemical and gas air pollutants.

Common chemical & gas pollutants:

  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Radon
  • Smoke
  • Building Materials with volatile organic compounds

Particulate Air Pollutants

Particulate air pollutants are particulates that have the ability to become air born when disrupted. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller are of greatest concern because they can pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs.  Good house keeping and construction containment practices are the best methods for lowering particulate air pollutants.

Common particulate air pollutants:

  • Drywall
  • Fiberglass
  • Concrete
  • Carpet fibers
  • Sawdust