Pesticides can significantly degrade indoor air quality. Many of these products are specifically designed for the indoors, including insect killer for ants, termites, bees, and other insects, and rodent killer for mice and rats. Pesticide liquids and collars may be applied to your pets. Pesticides may also be inadvertently tracked into the home after you walk in your garden or on your lawn after the outdoor application of pesticides and/or herbicides. Both the active and inactive ingredients in pesticides can aerosolize in the home and contaminate the air.
Pesticide exposure can cause both acute and chronic health problems. Researchers have found acute toxicity to cause headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, muscle cramping, shortness of breath, and many other symptoms. Chronic exposure can damage the liver, kidneys, and peripheral nerves. Sensory nerves have particularly been shown to be damaged by chronic exposure to pesticides. Some pesticides are associated with causing cancer.
By taking a few precautions, you can significantly reduce the indoor accumulation of pesticides. First of all, have your family and guests remove their footwear upon entering your home. Apply flea and tick solutions to pets outdoors. If you spray or have a pest company spray your indoors with pesticides, ventilate the area afterward as much as possible by opening the windows and running fans until the odors dissipate. Even “non-toxic” products that are pet friendly should be ventilated. Store unused product in the garage or some other protected outside space.
The severity of outdoor air pollution depends on your home’s location. If you live in an area with bad outdoor pollution, opening up the windows and doors in your home can bring small particles and ground-level ozone from car exhaust, smoke, road dust, and factory emissions into the home. Pollen from plants can also contribute to particulate air pollution. Outdoor air pollution levels fluctuate with the weather, industry activity, and the season, worsening with higher air temperatures and air stagnation. A windy day will clean out pollutants and provide cleaner air, but outdoor air will begin to concentrate contaminants again once the wind abates. Bad outdoor air quality can cause a real hardship when trying to achieve optimal indoor air quality. One of the easiest ways to clean up your indoor air is to open the windows and allow cross ventilation, but if the outdoor air is contaminated, this can have the opposite effect.
See all the posts in this series on airborne toxins in your home:
Indoor Air Toxins 101: The Basics of Indoor Pollution
Indoor Air Toxins 101: Understanding How We Breathe
Indoor Air Toxins 101: Understanding Indoor Air Pollution
Indoor Air Toxins 101: The Dangers of Candles
Indoor Air Toxins 101: Reducing Indoor Black Soot
Indoor Air Toxins 101: VOCs, Asbestos and Lead
Indoor Air Toxins 101: Understanding Mold & Health