Indoor Air Pollution and Health Effects – Who’s at Risk
Are you worried about the air you breathe? Do you only think of air pollution when you are outdoors? Did you know that the indoor air quality could be worse than the outside air quality?
Causes of Poor Indoor Air Quality
An average person spends a majority of their time in indoor facilities like home, schools, offices, restaurants, or shops. Poor indoor air quality is caused by:
- Mold & Mildew
- Dust mites & cockroaches
- Toxic gases like radon & carbon monoxide
- Tobacco smoke
All these common indoor air pollutants are known to affect human health, causing lung diseases like asthma adversely, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, and an increased risk of heart diseases and stroke.
People with sensitive lungs, older people, and children are particularly more vulnerable to poor air quality. Approximately 3 million people die annually by diseases caused by household air pollution, which include:
- Pneumonia: Indoor air pollution doubles the risk of childhood pneumonia and is responsible for 45% of death in children under five years old and 28% of all adult deaths to pneumonia.
- COPD: In low- and middle-income countries, 25% of deaths from COPD are caused due to indoor air pollution.
- Stroke: Up to 10% of all deaths caused by a stroke can be attributed to household air pollution.
- Lung cancer: Roughly 15% of lung cancer deaths in adults are caused by toxic indoor gases, with most deaths being women.
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Keeping indoor air quality as clean as possible is essential for your health and doing so is not as hard as it seems.
The most common air pollutant tied to poor indoor air quality is cigarette smoke, which poses a high health risk, especially for children. Smoking indoors releases many toxic gases, and e-cigarettes release vapors that include VOCs, heavy metals, and other chemicals associated with lung diseases. The best approach to avoid air pollution caused by cigarettes is to avoid smoking indoors.
Another common cause of poor indoor air quality is household cleaning supplies. Cleaning supplies contain harsh chemicals that irritate your nose, mouth, skin, and lungs. These chemicals release fumes that cause inflammation in the respiratory system and make it difficult for people with chronic lung conditions to heal from infections. If you have to use strong cleaning supplies, wearing a mask helps protect you.
Common Indoor Air Pollutants
Other indoor pollutants that can trigger asthma and allergies include:
- Arts and crafts supply like glue, paint, or toner
- Allergens like mold, dust mites, pollen, or pet dander
- Wood burning fireplaces/stoves
- Improper ventilation
- Odors from harsh cleaning chemicals
- Particulates from candles
- Materials used in older buildings such as lead
More Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality
- Changing AC filters: Air conditioners work all year round to give your premises the perfect temperature. The air filter in an air conditioner keeps filtering out common air pollutants while keeping the temperature steady, but the filters fill up and, if not changed, can lead to bad indoor air quality and also wear down the air conditioning system. It is essential to change air filters regularly or get an air conditioning service plan, especially if you are prone to allergies.
- Changing other air filters: Filters in other household appliances like vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers, and kitchen vents must be examined and maintained regularly.
- Inspect your air ducts: Air ducts are in charge of distributing hot and cold air throughout your home to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your premises. In case ducts are not installed or maintained properly, harmful chemicals, dust mites, molds, and similar allergens will be distributed to every room, reducing the overall air quality and increasing the risk of falling sick.
- Cooking vents: Gas stoves and electric burners release toxic gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide that can easily be absorbed into a person’s bloodstream. Therefore, installing vents in your kitchen is important for better air quality and reducing pollutants.
- Controlling moisture in your premises: Humid places are an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew that can trigger respiratory issues like asthma and allergies. Investing in a good humidifier that maintains the humidity levels indoors will help curb the growth of irritants like molds and fungi and promote better indoor air quality.
- Cleaning carpets and rugs regularly: Carpets and rugs act as air filters all on their own by trapping dust and allergens and hence need regular cleaning as well.
- Indoor plants: The best natural air filters are plants. They not only improve the aesthetics of a place but are also excellent in pulling out contaminants from the air, improving the air quality instantly.
- Test your home for Radon: Radon is a radioactive gas released from the soil into the ground and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the USA. However, there are inexpensive ways to reduce the emission of this gas by connecting a PVC pipe system to reduce the pressure of gas in the soil and vent the harmful gas out into the atmosphere so that it doesn’t enter your premises.
911 Restoration of Marietta
If you feel your home’s air quality needs professional care, call 911 Restoration of Marietta at (678) 325-7841 now. Our team is professionally trained and certified to help you restore your property back to its original condition. We are available 24/7 every day of the year to help our customers with any and all water damage restoration and remediation services!