Indoor Air Quality in a Basement

Basement Air QualityThe American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has reported that 50% of all respiratory illnesses are caused or aggravated by polluted air. And with the Environmental Protection Agency showing the levels of airborne pollutants as 2-5 times (and up to 100 times) higher indoors that outdoors, and Americans spending ten times as much of their time indoors than outdoors, this is a serious problem. Indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental risks to public health and too important to ignore.

Products such as formaldehyde, which is found in the resins in fiberglass are considered unhealthy volatile organic compounds. When left in a basement, they continuously release unhealthy (and, in the case of formaldehyde, carcinogenic) vapors into the air.

It's important to remember that "going green" in a basement does not necessarily mean using only organic materials in the space. In a basement, where moisture, flooding, and water vapor is a commonality, anything that can rot, grow mold, or be damaged by moisture will certainly do so. This means that products like drywall, cork, wood, plywood, chipboard, latex paint, organic carpet, and other materials should not be part of the building design.

Dust mitesWhen organic materials such as carpeting and drywall are exposed to moisture and high humidity levels, they become breeding grounds for mold and dust mites. A single gram of dust can feed a thousand dust mites, with each one creating 200 times its weight in fecal material and lay 180 eggs in two months. National Wildlife Federation counts dust mite waste as being responsible for 80-90% of the allergic component of house dust, with 15 potent allergens that sensitize and trigger allergic reactions. The American Family Physician has gone as far as to state that controlling dust mites is the most important way to make your home better for people with asthma and allergies.

Moldy WallMold spores can easily grow in a basement- the Journal of Property Management has reported 1 to 10 million spores found on just one square inch of drywall! Mold can grow in any home with a reasonable temperature, organic material and a relative humidity of more than 60% (very common in a basement). Time magazine reports that there can be hundreds of thousands of mold spores in a single cubic meter of air indoors, and a single person inhales 10 or 12 cubic meters each day. Mold spores are harmful whether they are dead or alive, and can cause symptoms of allergic rhinitis, including a runny nose, watery eyes, mild allergic reactions, a scratchy throat, fatigue, and general discomfort when breathing. In rare cases, mold can even be toxic!

If you experience a headache, stuffy nose, or other allergic reaction in your home that is quickly relieved once you leave the building, allergens from home mold or dust mites may be the cause. A healthy remodeled basement is one that's free of both chemical discharges such as formaldehyde and contaminants from fiberglass and also from home allergens such as the ones caused by dust mite waste and mold spores.

Green Basement Remodeling

Alternative products such as PVC and closed-cell polystyrene insulation will not release unhealthy fumes into the home unless heated above 200 degrees Fahrenheit. They provide a safe, healthy alternative to fiberglass and wood, and are able to live in your home without supporting the growth of mold, rot, and moisture. For a free estimate on a basement remodeling in your home, call or contact us online today!

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