I live in a pretty cheap apartment near campus. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles, but I’m fine with that. There is one thing that concerns me a little bit, though, and that’s the fact that there is mold around and the air kind of smells… funny. It makes me worried that I’m breathing “unhealthy air,” or something. It doesn’t help that my roommate is a smoker, though he likes to think that the cigarette smell overpowers the moldy smell (thanks, I guess!). How concerned should I be about the air I’m breathing when I’m at home? I’m only there at night and a few hours during the day, and only when school is in session, if that matters.
Even if you’re not spending a ton of time in a place, air quality matters. And when you’re talking about a place that you live for most of the year and spend every night in, you’re talking about a place you do spend lots of time in–more than enough time to experience the negative effects of poor indoor air quality.
Air pollutants can cause a wide range of problems for those who breathe them in. Enough smoke or the right type of mold spores can poison you, and even smaller and less lethal exposures can cause issues. When exposed to poor quality air, you may experience immediate issues like headaches, dizziness and fatigue; you may see existing medical conditions worsen; and, in the long term, you may even develop serious illnesses like cancer. These things are big concerns in polluted urban areas, but you can just as easily get sick in your own home if you don’t keep an eye on the air quality!
You mention two air pollutants that are common problems. Mold is an issue in a large number of American homes–more than half of all properties show some sign of water damage and mold. (But this doesn’t mean your mold issue is no big deal–all mold issues should be taken seriously, and yours sounds rather significant). And your roommate isn’t helping: smoke is never good for you, say the consultants at Forensic Analytical, who specialize in wildfire smoke impact evaluations. And secondhand smoke from cigarettes, in particular, can cause serious medical issues: studies show that secondhand smoke kills more than 40,000 people a year.
In other words, you need to act to improve your indoor air quality, say the HVAC cleaning technicians at Custom Aire. You can start by insisting that your roommate smoke outside and by attacking the mold with mold treatment products available in your local hardware store (use eye and skin protection and a mask–or, better yet, call in the experts (or insist that your landlord do so). Make sure your HVAC system is clean and is doing a good job filtering your air, and let fresh air in occasionally from outside.
Air quality matters! It’s a key part of staying healthy. You spend a lot of time in your apartment, so make sure that your living space there is as healthy as possible.
“Excuse the mess, but we live here.” — Roseanne Barr