Few people associate their home’s air quality with their attic. However, they should. That’s because insulation works 24/7 to regulate a home’s temperature. In fact, your home’s insulation should be thought of as a giant filter that is a major player in a home’s overall air quality. Here’s what you need to know.
Critters Living in Your Attic Can Make You Sick
Many times, pests such as squirrels, insects, raccoons, bats, and mice can make their way into your attic through a home’s soffits. While this is always a comprise to a home’s air quality, it’s even more problematic when the stack effect is present. In the winter months, the stack effect will draw air from your attic to your basement. The opposite is true in the summer. This additional air circulation promotes the inhalation of harmful chemicals that are found in animal fecal matter. Particularly concerning is bat guano. When the guano dries, it converts to a powdery substance. If inhaled, it can lead to lung infections and even death.
Vermiculite insulation can be recognized by its shimmering flakes. At high temperatures, the flakes will expand. While not all vermiculite insulation is dangerous, a mine in Libby, Montana where much of the country’s vermiculite insulation came from, also contained deposits of asbestos. When vermiculite insulation that contains asbestos is disturbed, the fibers within it become airborne. When inhaled, the fibers can lead to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Attic Moisture Issues
Mold growth in your attic is often the result of a leaky roof or ice dams. When insulation becomes wet, it is no longer able to keep a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Even more alarming is that mold can have a negative impact on a home’s air quality. That’s because mold spores can float throughout your home. When they are inhaled, they can cause respiratory infections, watery eyes, allergic reactions, and compromised immune systems.