Coping With Biological Pollutants

Checking Your Home

There is no simple and cheap way to sample the air in your home to determine the level of all biological pollutants. Experts suggest that sampling for biological pollutants is not a useful problem-solving tool. Even if you had your home tested, it is almost impossible to know which biological pollutant(s) cause various symptoms or health problems. The amount of most biological substances required to cause disease is unknown and varies from one person to the next.

Does this make the problem sound hopeless? On the contrary, you can take several simple, practical actions to help remove sources of biological pollutants, to help get rid of pollutants, and to prevent their return.

Self-Inspection: A Walk Through Your Home

Begin by touring your household. Follow your nose, and use your eyes. Two major factors help create conditions for biological pollutants to grow: nutrients and constant moisture with poor air circulation.

  • Dust and construction materials, such as wood, wallboard, and insulation, contain nutrients that allow biological pollutants to grow. Firewood also is a source of moisture, fungi, and bugs.
  • Appliances such as humidifiers, kerosene and gas heaters, and gas stoves add moisture to the air.
  • A musty odor, moisture on hard surfaces, or even water stains, may be caused by:
    • Air-conditioning units
    • Basements, attics, and crawlspaces
    • Bathrooms
    • Carpets
    • Heating and air-conditioning ducts
    • Humidifiers and dehumidifiers
    • Refrigerator drip pans