Environmental Assessment with Irv: Indoor Particle Pollution

In this months Environmental Assessment blog with Irv, we're discussing Indoor Particle Pollution. Learn more about how particulate matter in your home can impact you and how to take steps toward correcting it!

Scientific studies have determined that the levels of indoor air pollutants in our homes and places of work are often higher than the natural outdoor environment. Such pollutants have a direct impact on occupant health and cause of many health issues. So, what specifically are these pollutants?


Mold spores and fragments of spores

Bacteria cells


Chemicals from flooring, furniture, cleaning products, fire retardant foams from couches and chairs.

Skin cells

Carpet fibers

HVAC systems

By products of cooking

Soot from candles

Other biological pollutants.


Data from the EPA(Environmental Protection Agency) reports that children, elderly and individuals under medical care may be at a higher risk for adverse respiratory distress and possible neurological symptoms. Think of indoor pollution as fine airborne particles (too small to see with the naked eye) that absorb environmental contaminants (see above list). These microscopic particles reside in carpeting and furniture and become airborne when disturbed by occupants through walking, sitting and by air flow from the HVAC system. In cases where mold has occurred, the spores and hyphal fragments may become entrained in the particulate matter and become part of the overall dust in the indoor environment.


Measuring the level of indoor pollutants is thus essential in determining if your indoor environment is contributing to one’s poor health. Such measurements cab can be conducted with a particle counter that provides real-time (fast) measurements. Elevated particles at or below the 2.5 (micron) level are of the most concern(see EPA 2.5).

An environmental assessment (investigation) conducted when individuals are experiencing health issues may include testing the levels of airborne particulates which helps to understand if Indoor Pollution is occurring and what steps should be considered to identify the sources and to provide a remedy.

 The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream. 1. premature death in people with heart or lung disease 2. nonfatal heart attacks 3. irregular heartbeat 4. aggravated asthma 5. decreased lung function 6. increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing (per EPA) are some of the health concerns related to elevated indoor particle pollution.

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