Fall IAQ Check: How Candles, Pumpkins and More Can Affect Your Air

Corpus Christi got some bad news last year about air quality: ours is worse than that of several much larger cities, including New York and Chicago. It seems the presence of oil refineries, as well as the high concentration of bricks and mortar and the paucity of green space are contributing factors.

It might surprise you to learn that even as poor as our outdoor air is, it’s still better than the air in most people’s homes. That’s because most of us these days have airtight houses without adequate ventilation.

In fall, things get even worse, with scented candles, jack o’lanterns, fall potpourri and the like. Read on about fall IAQ concerns.

What’s Making Your IAQ Worse This Fall?

We mentioned a few culprits for poor fall IAQ. Here are some tips on how to make things better.

Candles. Candles make for great ambience, but contribute not only to indoor air pollution, but compromise the effectiveness of your HVAC air filter. The petroleum-based paraffin types are the worst offenders. If you must burn candles, use soy or beeswax types. Better yet, try battery-operated candles for your fall parties instead.

Potpourri, air fresheners and diffusers. Everybody loves fall scents like cinnamon and cloves, but releasing potpourri into your air — or any fragrance — can  cause breathing problems. Air fresheners and some diffused scents, which contain volatile organic compounds, are not good for your health, aggravating allergies, causing asthma attacks and other respiratory problems. Some essential oils used in diffusers are touted as being healthful, but do your research and know what you’re sending up in your home’s air.

Candle-Lit Pumpkins. Nothing wrong with carving pumpkins but it’s the candle burning inside that can cause breathing problems. Instructions abound on the internet for wiring an LED or other type of light inside a pumpkin instead of a candle. To help keep your air clean, use a good quality air filter in your HVAC
system. A carbon-activated air purifier can also help clean up VOCs.

For more on fall IAQ concerns, contact CCAC of Corpus Christi.

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    David Mathewst David Mathews is the owner of CCAC Air Conditioning and Heating. A Corpus Christi native... More »