Basements used to be places that were primarily used to house things like furnaces, water heaters, laundry, and out-of-season items. But, things have changed. The rising cost of living combined with a desire for more living space has made many of us take a second look at the benefits of underground living. Today, basements are used as playrooms, workshops, extra bedrooms, gyms, and even entire apartments.
But, as appealing as the extra space of a basement can appear, there are a number of health hazards lurking in the room below your house. Fortunately, a high-quality air purifier with a True HEPA filter can go a long way in making your basement air safer.
Here are the top 6 basement hazards your air purifier can alleviate.
When uranium decays, it turns into another metal called radium. When radium breaks down, it becomes radon. You can’t see or smell radon, but it can have a big impact on your health, especially in closed environments like basements.
The reason radon is so damaging to your health is because it’s able to penetrate the lining of your lungs and give off radiation. Over time, that radiation can damage cells and lead to lung cancer. About 21,000 people die each year from lung cancer related to radon.
There are certain areas around the country where the risk of radon seeping into basement cracks is particularly high. No matter where you live, a radon detector can help determine how high the radon level is in your basement. An air purifier with an activated carbon filter will remove radon from your basement so it doesn’t reach unhealthy levels.
But, it’s important to note that the EPA suggests that high levels of radon should be treated by a radon remediation expert.
Carbon dioxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is emitted from vehicles, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, portable generators, or furnaces. In the basement, furnaces are the biggest source of carbon dioxide.
Carbon monoxide can cause health problems for people in the basement, as well as the rest of the house as it seeps through your home. Because carbon monoxide is odorless and invisible, it may not be noticed until you start showing severe symptoms and by then it may have already done damage. Every year, around 20,000 people visit the emergency room, 4,000 others are hospitalized, and 400 lose their lives to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Besides the health concerns, carbon monoxide also presents a dangerous fire hazard.
An air purifier with an activated carbon filter will remove carbon monoxide from your basement. But, because of its extreme toxicity, if you have a gas- or oil-fired furnace, have it inspected annually, and use carbon monoxide detectors throughout your house.
Not only do sewer gases contain an array of chemicals including methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide, but they also include fumes from solvents and other chemicals that have been introduced into the sewer system.
Typically, sewer gases come into your home through basement floor drains. These drains are designed with a trap to hold a small amount of water in order to seal the pipe so sewer gases don’t escape into the home. But, as the drain dries out, the seal can open, releasing sewer gas into the basement.
Besides the unpleasant smell of sewer gas, the chemicals emitted can cause a number of health concerns including nausea,eye irritation, and difficulty breathing. Very high concentrations of sewer gases can even be fatal.
To remove the smell, dump a gallon of clean water down the drain to reseal the pipe and keep the odor out of your basement. An air purifier with an activated carbon filter will get rid of any harmful gases that remain.
The out-of-sight rooms of the basement seem to be a great place to store cans of varnish, paint, and adhesives. But, if the cans have already been open, toxic chemicals called volatile organic compounds can be released into your indoor air.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are airborne chemicals that arise from many everyday products. Some VOCs, such as formaldehyde, can cause a range of adverse health effects. Unfortunately, while most outdoor pollutants are regulated in the United States, indoor ones are not, leaving us on our own to protect ourselves.
Whether or not someone experiences health effects depends upon several factors, including the type of chemical, how concentrated the chemical is in the air, how long the exposure continues, and whether or not the person smelling the chemical has any particular sensitivities.
Unfortunately, many of the most dangerous VOCs don’t even have a smell. According to the EPA, seemingly “clean” indoor air can contain levels of VOCs that are 2 to 5 times higher than outdoors, and basements that are filled with old cans of paint and varnish tend to have high concentrations.
To avoid VOC exposure, inspect your stored solvents and throw away any that can’t be properly closed or are leaking. An air purifier with an activated carbon filter will help eliminate any VOCs that remain in your basement air.
The damp, stale air of the basement is the perfect place for mold to take hold. Mold spores enter your home through windows, doors, and even on your clothes. If they land in a damp environment they can begin to grow and release more spores into the air.
As mold grows, it releases spores, cells, fragments, and unstable organic compounds into the air. When the air is damp, the materials break down even faster, releasing more of these particles.
Breathing in these particles can cause a host of health problems. Some of the more common issues are breathing problems, allergic reactions, and inflammation… which can lead to more serious illnesses.
One of the most dangerous types of mold is called Aspergillus, which can cause a serious health problem, known as aspergillosis. Aspergillosis may result in severe breathing problems, bloody cough, and dramatic weight loss.
In extreme cases, mold exposure can cause psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
An air purifier with a True HEPA filter will remove mold spores in your basement air before they have a chance to take hold.
Because of its location underground and the lack of windows, basements tend to be very poorly ventilated which can allow whatever pollutants are in the air to linger for long periods of time. Dust, mold, pollen, pet hair, and other particles can all trigger asthma attacks or allergic reactions.
An air purifier with a True HEPA filter will remove 99.95% of particulate matter in your basement air, keeping your basement air clean and safe for your family to breath.