How Pets Affect The Air Quality In Your Home
We all love our pets. After all, more than half of the people on the planet own an animal, and 90% consider their pets family members. Unfortunately, as anybody with a pet allergy knows, our beloved animal companions can harm the air quality in our homes.
How, exactly, can your pets cause poor air quality in your home? Can you mitigate the allergy symptoms you may express around animals? It can be challenging to navigate air quality and pets, especially in a modern society that loves pets so much. However, it's still very possible.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about pets and indoor air quality.
How Can Your Pets Negatively Impact the Air Quality in Your Home?
The primary way your pets will negatively impact your air quality is by releasing pet dander into the air. Professionals have studied the effects of pets in a home environment, with the concentration of particles measuring ≤2.5 μm on average.
Animal dander is one of the leading causes of pet allergies and, in severe cases, can cause severe health issues. For example, people with asthma may suffer an asthma attack when exposed to high dander levels.
However, what is dander? Is it the same thing as dandruff? How can you remove pet dander from your home? Let's take a look.
Many people are not truly allergic to pets but to the byproducts that they create. Pet dander consists of much of the same material as human dander; dead cells and shed hair.
Once pet dander gets into your air, it can cause allergic reactions or mild irritations to any human resident of a home.
Thankfully, there are several methods for getting rid of pet dander. You may notice your pet's extra fur and dander piling up on your couch- how would you clean that?
How To Clean Pet Dander
Cleaning pet dander is no enormous challenge. If you have the proper materials, it is far easier than you may expect. However, as with all cleaning matters, you will have a more thorough cleaning if you spend more time on your efforts.
First, you should thoroughly vacuum any area, whether it be your floors, carpet, or couch. Get as much large, visible debris as you can.
Next, take a damp cloth and wipe down any furniture, floor, or carpet that you need to. For smooth surfaces, such as floors, tables, and certain furniture, try a dry microfiber cloth.
Can Your Pets Increase the Risks of Allergic Reactions?
Unfortunately, yes- it is very likely that your pets can increase the risk of allergic reactions in anybody with an existing pet allergy. Some physicians recommend exposure therapy to overcome pet allergies, which is sometimes effective.
By exposing a person with allergies to the item they are allergic to, they may overcome it. However, this result is not the case for many severe allergic reactions. Ask your physician if this method is the right choice for you or your family.
Additionally, pets can increase the risk of asthmatic symptoms in people without allergies. If somebody has asthma, pet dander deposited in their respiratory system can cause asthma to act up.
Ultimately, anybody with a respiratory disease is at increased risk when exposed to pets.
Indoor Air Pollutants That May Harm Your Pets
Indoor pollutants can be anything from a mild annoyance to a severe health hazard for human inhabitants of a home.
However, humans are not the only animals that breathe. Did you know that air pollutants can harm your pets, as well?
Many pets, such as cats and dogs, have a far more specialized sense of smell than humans. As such, they are more sensitive to air quality, and indoor air pollution may even affect them more than it affects you.
For example, some pet cats and dogs can acquire lung diseases. Any particles or volatile organic compounds measuring ≤2.5 μm can be lethal to these pets.
Let's examine some of the most significant indoor pollutants that can affect your pets.
Scented products may excel at masking scents in your home, but despite how they smell, they negatively impact indoor air quality.
Many scented waxes, such as in candles, contain a chemical called paraffin. While safe for humans in small doses, paraffin is highly toxic to dogs, cats, and birds alike.
Likewise, air fresheners and incense can be toxic to your animals or otherwise have irritating or allergic effects. Similarly, essential oils can be seriously harmful to your pets. Essential oils may range from mildly irritating to severely toxic for any animal, especially dogs.
If you are concerned with air quality, radon is one of the most vital things to watch for. Radon has potentially devastating effects on the health of any resident of your home, human or pet.
Radon forms when uranium, found naturally in the rocks and soil that form the bedrock of your home, decays. As a gas, radon can enter your home via gaps and spaces in your floor and walls, and it will get stuck in your home without proper ventilation.
As the second most common source of lung cancer, radon is a significant health and air quality risk. Thankfully, you can reliably minimize or outright negate the effects of radon on you or your pets.
If your home has a radon barrier, typically installed under your floors during the construction of your home, your family and your pets may be safe from the harmful effects of radon.
If you do not have a radon barrier, consider installing one next time your home undergoes renovation. Radon barriers come in many forms, including spray foam insulation, so you can decide which state works best for you.
Asbestos is another airborne carcinogen that is a popular material in home construction.
Asbestos occurs when natural minerals crystallize and produce tiny fibers. These fibers are asbestos.
As a byproduct of natural minerals, asbestos is fireproof. It has a high degree of strength, making it a popular material for anything from insulation to roofing shingles and floor or ceiling tiles.
However, in recent years, asbestos has fallen out of popular use due to its nature as a potential carcinogen. As a fiber, wind or air circulation can blow a loose strand of asbestos into the air and cause a health hazard for anything that inhales it.
If your home has asbestos, consider removing it as soon as possible and replacing it with a healthier alternative for you and your pet.
Tobacco smoke is one of the most common sources of indoor pollution. While the carcinogenic nature of tobacco is well-known, many do not believe it can cause disease in companion animals.
Smoking tobacco cigarettes can release many harmful compounds into the air, including ash and nicotine. However, humans are not the only ones who face tobacco smoke danger. Your pets are at just as much risk of getting lung diseases, such as cancer, from tobacco smoke as you are- if not more.
Remember that your pet's respiratory system is far more sensitive than your own, and they can catch a respiratory disease easier than you can.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, are gasses that emit as a byproduct from various chemicals. Anything from pain strippers to wax can emit VOCs.
VOCs are common as a byproduct of cleaning products and personal care items, and as such, you should keep your pets out of the room when cleaning or getting ready for the day.
VOCs are not a danger to humans unless faced with high concentrations, but they can pose a significant respiratory issue for your pets.
Carbon monoxide is a notably toxic gas that can be deadly to you and your pets. Any combustion reaction will emit carbon monoxide as a byproduct, from lighting a cigarette to grilling a steak dinner.
Carbon monoxide can cause headaches and muscular discomfort in the chest with short exposure lengths, but within a matter of hours, carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly.
With the enclosed nature of homes, toxic gasses such as carbon monoxide can be hazardous- especially to your pets. As carbon monoxide is heavy, your pets will experience its negative effects far before you do.
Thankfully, you may not have to worry too much. A well-ventilated house can do away with most carbon monoxide. Plus, you may have a carbon monoxide detector in your home; if your monoxide levels reach unsafe levels, it will alert you.
How to Improve Air Quality With Your Pets
Having pets does not mean that your air quality is a lost cause. Many pet owners have found efficient ways to keep their homes clean despite the presence of pets. Here are some of the most common methods.
Most HVAC systems include some form of an air filter. If yours does not, consider installing one.
Air filters are an excellent method of reducing debris and contaminants in your air, thus increasing indoor air quality.
Ventilate Your Home
Sometimes, improving air quality is as simple as opening a window.
If your home has good airflow, such as either standing or ceiling fans, opening a window is an ideal way to get old, contaminated air out of your home and replace it with new, fresh air.
Bathe Your Pet
The odds are high that you've bathed your pets before. You don't want to let your pet drag dirt and mud through the house, so you wash them after playing outside.
However, bathing them without the dirt prerogative may also be a wise move. When you clean your pet, you prevent animal dander from entering the air by washing it down the drain or into the ground.
If you use a specially-formulated conditioner or shampoo dedicated to reducing and preventing pet dander, you can mitigate the effect of dander on your home until the next bath time.
When you want to increase the air quality in a smaller location, such as a single room, an air purifier is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.
An air purifier is a small device you can put on top of a desk, stable, shelf, or counter. These machines use various measures, often an electric charge, to destroy airborne contaminants that can negatively affect you or your pets. Anything from biological pollutants, such as airborne dust mites, to actual dust and pet fur can disintegrate when faced with an air purifier.
However, air purifiers have their drawbacks. For example, most air purifiers are relatively small and are only ideal for purifying a single room. If you want to utilize their power throughout your house, you may have to buy a separate unit for each room- or spend the extra money on a large, HVAC-centered unit.
Air Quality Monitors
Air quality monitors are not necessarily a way to directly counteract poor air quality, but they are a fantastic method to keep an eye on your air quality and take measures that prevent it from becoming an issue in the future.
Many air quality monitors measure a variety of factors in your homes, such as carbon dioxide levels and average concentration of particulate matter.
Some air quality monitors may measure factors that you would otherwise associate with your AC system, such as your home's temperature and humidity levels.
Ultimately, respiratory disease is no joke- you must keep your air clean of any contaminants, from biological pollutants to asbestos, to reduce any risk of contracting any of the various lung diseases.
Thankfully, we're here to help. If you want to keep your air clean and minimize any risk of catching or aggravating a respiratory disease in your home, see how Airzey can help you.