Indoor Air Pollution: The Causes And How To Clean It Up - Part One
How clean is the air you breathe at home? From what the studies have found, not very clean.
Air pollution indoors occurs at levels two to five times higher than outdoors, even in major cities. Considering that you're probably spending nearly 90 percent of your life indoors (work, sleep, shopping, spectator sports, eating, bathing, gym...you get my drift), that’s a serious concern. And...it seems that those who are the most susceptible to the problems caused by air pollution are also the ones who spend the most time indoors. These groups include the elderly, babies, children and the chronically ill.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
There are many sources of indoor air pollution. Once source category includes biological entities (molds and bacteria). Another source includes every type of chemical substance brought in, sprayed on or potentially apart of your house. This includes household cleaners, air fresheners, fabric treatments on your furniture or clothing and even gases that come from your carpeting or linoleum. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emitted by paint, glues and other agents common in the household can release irritating, poisonous or even toxic fumes and dangerous gases, such as carbon monoxide or radon.
Radon is another 'natural' element that can build up inside your home and potentially kill you (we'll talk more about it a little later). Luckily for us, detecting both carbon monoxide and radon is pretty easy. This is very important as these gases go way beyond simply polluting your indoor air quality.
Health Effects of Indoor Air Pollution
Toxins, molds, bacteria and gases can all play a deleterious role, damaging your health. The symptoms can be insidious or more acute, depending on your sensitivity and exposure level. Common symptoms of exposure to these agents include headaches, dizziness, irritation of the eyes, nose or throat,.and fatigue. Many people have experienced allergic-like reactions. Others have noted that pre-existing illness were aggravated, especially those affecting the respiratory system, like asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, COPD or emphysema.
Long-term exposure or overexposure to products like benzene (found in tobacco smoke, paint products, stored fuel and used liberally as a cleaner in rubber tire factories) or perchloroethylene (commonly used on dry-cleaned clothes) has even been linked to cancer. These chemicals can persist in the air, on fabrics and in your home long after they’ve been introduced or used in your home. They also can be directly absorbed through the skin.
You may not even know you’re suffering is the results of indoor air pollution because many health effects may not show up until years later.
Cleaning Up Your Air
So how can you protect yourself and your family from indoor air pollution? There are three basic methods of cleaning your air: 1) Eliminating The Source of Pollutants; 2) Increasing Ventilation to drive out the pollutants; and 3) Cleaning your air by trapping or inactivating the pollutants.
In Part Two of this article, we will look into ways to clean up the air in your home and improve the health of your living space