No matter how often you clean or use Febreze, your home will play host to a lot of different gases and fumes. Actually, especially if you clean or Febreze a lot. In another post on this blog, we’ve talked about the importance of proper home ventilation, but here we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of what exactly builds up in your house when you don’t ventilate. It’s not necessarily the most pleasant subject, but, as they say, knowledge is power, and I know my son and I have breathed easier—literally!—since learning how to handle and minimize gases and fumes in our home.
Common Gases and Fumes
If you discover any kind of gas leak or problem, you should, of course, take action to fix it. You don’t want to risk anyone’s health or anything going wrong. Here are some gases and fumes you may encounter in your home in varying quantities:
chemicals in paints: formaldehyde, benzene, others
Most of these gases and fumes are given off in areas you’d expect: the kitchen, garage, and basement, but if you’ve recently painted in your home, those chemicals are probably hanging out in your air. Radon is a tricky one, since it’s a natural, radioactive gas given off by soil. If your home, especially your basement, has cracks in the floor, walls, or windows, radon can sneak in.
Effects of Gases and Fumes
Whenever we talk about inhaling gases and fumes, the talk never really ends well, does it? Effects from high concentrations of gases and fumes can range from triggering of asthma attacks to nausea to problems with the nervous system, and even death. With my son’s allergies already giving him issues, I knew we didn’t need to add more stress to his system. And, even if he didn’t suffer from allergies, we’d want to safeguard our home anyway!
How to Detect and Decrease
Besides consistently ventilating your home with your HVAC system or by leaving your windows open, there are other steps you should take to minimize risk and improve your indoor air quality. Install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms—one on each floor if you have more than one story—and change the batteries twice a year. Get yourself a radon testing kit and take appropriate action if you find higher-than-normal levels of radon in your home. That would mean sealing any cracks, changing air flow, or installing a system that vents radon. Use your range hood when cooking to send cooking fumes outside. Buy paints with the label low-VOC. That means they use fewer harsh chemicals. Read labels on your cleaning supplies and go for those that rely less on chemicals. Seal up any cracks between your home and your garage, if it’s attached, and ventilate that garage, too.
It’s a small investment to detect and work to decrease the amount of gases and fumes in your home, and it’s well worth the effort. Breathe better!