Indoor Air Pollutants & Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

3 Primary Sources of Indoor Air Pollutants

Indoor air pollutants can generally be categorized in one of three primary sources; Airborne Particles, Biological Contaminants and Gases & Odors. You will be better equipped to control these 3 forms of air pollution by learning more about them. Air duct cleaning, carpet and upholstery cleaning and mattress cleaning are just a few ways a homeowner can remove indoor air pollutants.

Airborne Particles

Airborne particles include; dust, dirt, pollen, pet dander, carpet fibers and insulation. Of the three types of pollutants, airborne particles are usually the largest, but are not visible to the human eye. The two main particles which cause hay fever are dust and pollen. Pollen exists as airborne particles that are released from trees, flowers, weeds and other plan life.

Biological Contaminants

Biological contaminants include; dust mites, mold spores, yeasts, fungi, algae and viruses. Biological contaminants are also known as bioaerosols and can be both living and non-living organisms. Biological contaminants thrive in warm humid environments. Since they are so small, they can easily get past human protective filters in the nose and upper respiratory tract and enter the lungs. Biological contaminants are highly allergenic and can be found in basements, furniture, drapes, bedding and bathrooms.

Gases & Odors

Gases and odors include; tobacco smoke, cleaning products and chemical vapors from furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, fireplaces, wood stoves, cooking stoves, garages, carpet and furniture, pets, perfumes paint and pesticides.

Gases can come from formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)


(Methanal) is the chemical compound with the formula H2CO. Formaldehyde can be found in the smoke from forest fires, in automobile exhaust, in tobacco smoke. It can also be found in building products, insulation and capet backings.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide can come from sources including; idling cars in an attached garage, faulty chimneys, back drafting heating appliances like a furnace or water heater, poorly maintained combustion heating systems, gas cooking appliances and cigarette smoking,

Vocs (Volitile Organic Compounds)

VOCs are organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the atmosphere. Many VOCs found around the house, such as paint strippers and wood preservatives, contribute to sick building syndrome because of their high vapor pressure. VOC's are often used in paint, carpet backing, plastics, air fresheners and cosmetics. These VOCs can be found in your home and can create an unhealthy environment.

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