It turns out air is a lot like food when it comes to supporting human health. If you put unhealthy food in your body over time your health will decline and if you breathe unhealthy air over time the same thing will happen. However, while it is usually pretty easy to distinguish healthy and unhealthy food, it isn’t so easy to distinguish healthy and unhealthy air.
Building scientists tell us that the air we breathe inside our home isn’t “fresh air.” It is actually air that leaks in through wall cavities, floors, crawlspaces and basements. These are not sources of clean air! These are the dark spaces of a house that aren’t thought about or even cleaned routinely. In many cases, they are damp spaces with dirt floors.
As outdoor air seeps into houses, it carries with it dust, pollen, mold spores, chemicals, and moisture. When this collection of particles passes through the cracks and cavities it combines with other indoor particulates from cooking, pets, and household chemicals. Indoor dampness, caused by seemingly innocuous activities like showering, doing laundry, cooking and even breathing, exacerbates the problem. Dampness in a home causes building materials and carpets to degrade faster and release embedded chemicals including formaldehyde. Damp spaces are also more prone to known human allergens such as dust mites and cockroaches.
Outdoor and indoor particulates combined with excess moisture essentially creates a soup of allergens, bacteria, toxins and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that fills the air we breathe in the living spaces of our home.
The air from these sources can not only aggravate existing conditions like asthma and allergies but can also cause a wide variety of new symptoms that cause people not to feel well in their own homes.
If you think your home may be causing health issues for you and your family, getting your Hayward Score is a great way to begin your journey. It will identify the areas in your home that are the likely source of problems and give you actionable steps to address each one. Even if you can’t tackle all of them at once, every step you take will be a positive one!