In many people’s minds, air pollution is associated with smoke emanating from industrial chimneys. Though this is an evident example, what most don’t know is that the worst air quality they experience is most likely located in their houses. When air becomes trapped due to poor ventilation, it may stagnate to create a toxic cloud in the house. There are other facts that one needs to know about indoor air quality (IAQ).
IAQ is a top Health Hazard
Indoor air quality is ranked as a top 5 environmental hazard to public health. This is because indoor pollutants are typically 2-5 times greater than outdoor pollution levels. In extreme cases, it could even be a hundred times greater. This is attributed to poor ventilation, use of air fresheners and chemical-laden cleaners, and burning toxic candles.
Toxins in Air Fresheners and Furniture
Most air fresheners have been found to contain chemicals that disrupt hormonal functions in young children. Scented candles aren’t any better, as they’re made with paraffin wax which is known to contain carcinogens. Furniture made before 2006 contains toxic chemicals used in flame retardants which could leak into indoor air. Even the replacement chemicals have been found to contain toxins as well. Inhalation of these is usually the primary exposure route.
Schools Have the Worst Quality Air
Such institutions accommodate about 4 times the number of occupants as similar office buildings whose floor space is of a similar size. In such closed spaces, allergens and germs can spread quickly. This is worsened by the fact that children breathe in more air relative to their weight than grown adults.
Poor IAQ Aggravates Asthma
The occurrence of asthma has been on the rise since the early 80’s. This is a huge epidemic which has a disastrous impact on the quality of life. The rise in prevalence can somewhat be attributed to the corresponding dip in indoor air quality.
The Elderly are at a Higher Risk
Such people typically spend most of their days indoors, whether in care centers or their own homes. In some cases, they may spend as much as 20 hours a day. Studies indicate that patients in elderly care centers are exposed to high fungi concentration which negatively affects their respiratory health.
Indoor air pollutants are mostly particulate matter which easily passes into the bloodstream when inhaled. Common symptoms include headaches, fatigue, nasal congestion and nausea. Further problems caused by exposure include lung infections and asthma. Some particles could even cause depression and stroke in adults while children are prone to immune dysfunction and neural distress.
Wood Smoke Slackens Immune Response
Regular inhalation inhibits immune function and activity. While this would be more of a concern for those who use wood as fuel, anyone burning wood indoors needs to be aware of the health risks it poses. The particles found in wood smoke usually collect and gather in dust even after the fire is extinguished.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
Due to the many impurities in indoor spaces, one needs to take measures to purify the indoor air. One needs to improve ventilation, get rid of things containing air contaminants and clean the air using appropriate filters. It’s also advisable to go outdoors often. Follow us for more great articles on heating, air conditioning and home needs.