August 11, 2014

Indoor Air Quality: Address Crawl Space Problems for Your Health's Sake

The indoor air quality in your home may be up to five times—in some cases, more than 100 times—worse than the amount of pollution found outside, according to air quality experts. Let’s take a moment to fully absorb and reflect on that information. Car emissions, factory chemicals, dust, pollen, mold spores, smoke, carbon monoxide, lead and smog are common outdoor pollutants. If it’s not completely safe to breathe out there, what does that possibly suggest about the air circulating throughout your home?

The Air in Your Crawl Space Meets the Air in Your Home

The Stack Effect tells us that air naturally flows from bottom to top in a house. Because of this phenomenon, as much as 50 percent of the air you breathe on the first level originates in the crawl space beneath your home. So if you’re among the majority of homeowners who haven’t seen the inside of their crawl space since President Reagan was in office, you probably don't have a clue as to what’s going on down there. Your crawl space doesn’t have to be the horrific scene playing out in your imagination, but even if you never inspect it a day in your life, air mixing is still happening.

  “There is nothing worse than a dirt crawl space.”

Dirt crawl spaces can be especially hazardous because they retain high levels of moisture, creating an ideal environment for what the American Lung Association refers to as “biological pollutants.” The hefty term includes molds, bacteria, dust mites, pollen and particles from pests. Long-term high humidity, particularly during the summer months when homeowners are wrongly told to “vent” their crawl spaces, is an invitation for poor indoor air quality, higher energy bills and unwanted guests like wood rot and fungi. Some people have reported mushrooms growing in their home’s crawl space and even worse—their kitchen! Estimates suggest there are 30 million homes in the U.S. and Canada with dirt-floored, vented crawl spaces. The insinuation here is that many of them are battling moisture problems. And let the record show, moisture in the walls or crawl space of your home can make life miserable for you and your family.

What's Moving In and Out of Your Lungs Each Day? 

The average adult breathes over 3,000 gallons of air daily with children bringing in more air thus their increased susceptibility to pollution. If your little ones aren’t suffering from respiratory effects yet, a study by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory says the presence of dampness and mold [in the home] raises their risk by 30 to 50 percent. Newborns, the elderly and people with existing health issues are especially vulnerable to breathing difficulty and increased allergies as a direct result of poor indoor air quality. Their conditions can worsen without proper care in a healthy environment. 

Commissioned by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences gathered a few experts to conduct a thorough review of scientific data on the connection “between damp or moldy indoor environments and the appearance of adverse health effects in exposed populations”. Their findings revealed a link between exposure to damp indoor environments and harmful health effects. Common symptoms include but are not limited to, upper respiratory problems, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and other asthma-like diseases. It is also documented that prolonged exposure to poor indoor air quality may contribute to chronic heart and lung problems as well as cancer. Radon, found in the soil beneath your home's foundation, is a prime offender and the second cause of lung cancer in the U.S.

You Need Breathing Room 

Let’s do a quick recap: Car emissions, factory chemicals, dust, pollen, mold spores, smoke, carbon monoxide, lead and smog are common outdoor pollutants and the air in your home can be up to five times worse than that. Bottom line? Don’t let a soggy, polluted crawl space compromise your home’s air quality or structural integrity, because if moisture lingers anywhere along the frame of a house too long, it can bring the whole thing down. A careful crawl space inspection performed by a qualified professional can be a meaningful step on the road to better health. There’s no charge and the benefits are priceless. Ready to breathe easy? 

Before                               After

Our CleanSpace Encapsulation System is recommended as a great solution for homeowners who want to avoid the consequences associated with having a nasty, dirt crawl space. 

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