Have you ever wondered if the things inside your house that you consider safe and harmless actually are? WHO estimates that indoor air pollution accounts for about 1.6 million deaths each year. These deaths could be a result of the aerosol sprays you use, the plastic containers you use to warm your food, and the synthetic carpet you love to lie on.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants
Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within and around buildings and structures, especially if it relates to the health of occupants in the buildings. Common indoor air pollutants include excessive moisture, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in disinfectants, wood preservatives, aerosols and carpeting, combustion products (smoke, CO), radon, pesticides, dust particles, pet dander, viruses, and bacteria.
Construction of airtight houses, carried out to make homes energy efficient, also increases indoor air pollution. It is a good idea to have to keep cool air in during summer and warm air in during winter. However, unless one has a good ventilation system that ensures adequate air exchange with the outside, you are trapping air pollutants unknowingly.
Effect on Health
Indoor air pollution is notorious for causing health problems. These include respiratory disorders such as asthma, allergies, pneumonitis, bronchitis, heart disease, and mutagen related diseases. In the U.S radon gas, a radioactive gas naturally generated from the ground is the second leading cause of lung cancer.
Moreover, poor ventilation results in spikes of Carbon dioxide, which affects the cognitive abilities of humans. Prolonged indoor exposure has also been linked to low birthweights among infants.
So, How do You Improve IAQ?
All hope is not lost. You can improve indoor air quality or manage it effectively with the right tools and techniques. Here are simple ways to curb indoor air pollution:
- Identify the source– One of the most effective ways to improve IAQ is by eliminating pollution or reducing emissions. This includes the use of non-toxic pest extermination techniques, swapping air fresheners with essential oil diffusers, and regular cleaning of carpets.
- Improve the ventilation– With proper ventilation, pollutants and allergens are circulated outside, minimizing the risk of exposure.
- Minimize exposure to carbon monoxide- Poor combustion methods produce CO, leading to decreased oxygen levels and death.
- Avoid smoking- Tobacco smoking and vaping produce harmful gases and particles that have detrimental health effects.
- Eliminate mold- Mold is an allergen causing sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, and lethargy among individuals. Houses, especially bathrooms and the kitchen, ought to be kept free of moisture.
- Groom pets regularly. Pets need to be brushed often, and the surfaces vacuum cleaned to minimize pet dander.
- Invest in air purifiers. Air purifiers should be kept in commonly used rooms to keep off stale indoor air. Potted indoor plants e.g., snake plants, detoxify indoor air.