Toxins & Allergens

What are Toxins & Air Allergens

Do you know what’s in your household air? You can’t see them or smell them, but toxins and allergens may be having a big impact on your health and Healthy Air USA is here to help.


Dust Mites

This is the most common allergen-producing organism found in the home. In fact, 90% of the population that experiences any allergy-based symptoms reacts to this allergen. They live in carpets, upholstered furniture, bed pillows and mattresses. If the relative humidity in your home is below 50%, the problem will dry up, but if the relative humidity rises above 50% they thrive. Under these conditions, they will rapidly reproduce causing a large increase in their fecal matter, which is the primary source of the allergen.

How do I get rid of them?

The best solution for dust mites is to control the relative humidity in your home. They cannot survive in areas where the humidity level is below 50%. Have the relative humidity checked in your home during summer and fall. Relative humidity can be controlled by the use of a whole-house dehumidifier installed adjacent to the air conditioner. By controlling the humidity, you completely remedy the problem.

Washing bedding in hot water has been shown to reduce the allergens, as well. Since stuffed toys are a breeding ground for the problem, choose toys that can be washed and thoroughly dried, and keep them off beds to reduce the exposure received during long hours of sleep. It may also help to put stuffed toys in the freezer for a day or so.


Carbon Monoxide

This is an odorless and colorless gas, but can quickly cause permanent neurological damage and even death.

CO is released from poorly vented kerosene and gas space heaters, leaking chimneys and furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, fireplaces, automobile exhaust, and more. It can enter the home in a variety of ways, including:

  • Flues or chimneys become blocked so exhaust cannot be vented to the outside.
  • Fuel burning furnace has a cracked or rusted heat exchanger, allowing combustion gases into the living spaces.
  • Fuel-burning space heaters, ovens, ranges or grills are operated in the home without adequate ventilation.
  • Car exhaust from an attached garage enters the home.
  • Combustion equipment is not working properly and causes incomplete combustion.
  • There’s a negative pressure balance between the inside and outside of the home, preventing adequate venting of combustion gases.

What causes the gas to build to dangerous levels?

Harmful build-ups of these indoor pollutants can occur when: exhaust from combustion equipment is not vented to the outside of the home, and when combustion equipment is not in good working order and is not regularly inspected for safe operation.

Some homes may have a problem with backdrafting. This is a situation when the air pressure inside the home is less than the air pressure outside, causing combustion by-products from furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and similar equipment to spill back into the room rather than being vented outside. Backdrafting can also occur when natural draft appliance exhaust is pulled back into the house by mechanical ventilation — like a down-draft kitchen power vent.

Is there a way to detect if my home has a build-up?

Testing air health is important to keep indoor pollutants in check, and there are carbon monoxide alarms you can install, which will alert you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. It is important to choose and place an alarm wisely and maintain it to assure accurate sensing of carbon monoxide.

How can I reduce my home’s risks?

The most important practice is to keep all combustion equipment well-maintained and inspected for safety. Experts recommend having your combustion heating systems inspected by a trained professional every year. Such inspections should look for blocked openings to flues and chimneys; cracked or disconnected flue pipe; signs of soot around openings in your furnace or boiler; rust or cracks in the heat exchanger; soot or creosote build-up; and exhaust or gas odors.


Animal Dander

This is very much like human dandruff. Your pet sheds dead skin cells which become air borne and are easily inhaled. Although most people believe they are allergic to an animal’s hair or feathers, it is actually the allergens found in the dander, saliva and urine that are causing the allergic reaction.



Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the resent past, asbestos was added to a variety of products to strengthen them and to provide heat insulation and fire resistance. However, asbestos has been around for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptian clothing has been found to contain asbestos fibers. Artwork has been discovered containing asbestos. During the early twentieth century, asbestos was the insulation material of choice. NASA used the material throughout their shuttles and automobile manufacturers also used it throughout the vehicle industries. Although these were large consumers, the major market for asbestos was in the residential sector; pipe wrapping, roofing, wall insulation, siding, flooring and the insides of boilers to name a few.


Aerosols and Bioarerosols

Aerosols are substances that are suspended in air, such as tobacco smoke particulates and the dirt and dust particles that are visible in a ray of sunlight streaming in through a window. Bioaerosols are airborne particles from living organisms such as bacteria, viruses, molds, fungi, pollens, dust mite and insect remains, and pet dander.


Second Hand Smoke

Second hand smoke has been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a known cause of lung cancer in humans (Group A carcinogen). The EPA estimates that ETS causes approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers each year.

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