Did you know that indoor air pollution is also a thing?
Air pollution from transportation has literally taken over the spotlight in the last few years. But, did you know that contaminated air present inside our homes or workspaces is also a thing to consider? It is equally damaging, like the levels outside. And to your surprise, these indoor air pollutants can arise from some really unexpected everyday sources and activities. You might not think in those terms, but the other day you burnt a toast also filled your kitchen with some level of impurities.
People mostly assume that only dust, stronger fragrances, and pollen are amongst the majorly contributing factors to air pollution, allergies, or breathing difficulties. But, there are several other lesser-known and equally toxic sources. We do not want you to think that you cannot use your favorite products or you must stay out of home or office – do as you like, but do not neglect the health of the interiors of your property.
You must know how to take control of your settings not just against outdoor pollution but even the most comfortable spaces to stay safe and healthy. You just cannot see it, but the indoor air is only worse. To identify the contamination, you can actually smell it in the air – it is the foremost sign to look for. And, if proper steps are not taken; it may cause serious harm.
So, in this blog, we will explore more details on indoor air pollution, associated health risks, and what you can do about it.
Table of Contents
The Pollution Within: Health Risks Associated With Poor Indoor Air Quality
But First, Who Is At Risk?
For your information, very much like outdoor pollution, pollutants inside can also lead to severe health risks for a majority of us. But, to prevent its long term impact, you must know who really is at a major risk of falling sick to poor indoor quality.
It is a fact that kids breathe more and faster than adults, which makes them more prone and sensitive to indoor pollution. Since they spend most of their time outdoors, the air outside has a much higher impact on their health. But, if your home environment is contaminated as well, it just aggravates their problems. In fact, they are also more vulnerable to asthma and related respiratory diseases.
Typically, adults of all ages may have a better immune system if they eat a well-balanced diet and exercise vigorously. However, if you are in this category and are working more outdoors, you are susceptible to outdoor pollution. But if you have a desk job and the surroundings are not ventilated adequately or if it feels damp, your immunity might gradually start deteriorating. You won’t notice the signs at an early stage, but if proper measures are not taken, the risks are expected to heighten.
Seniors who may already be having any cardiovascular or lung illnesses, they are more at risk of falling sick to the indoor pollutants. Older adults also tend to stay indoors more often, which gradually increases their risk of developing other ailments.
Sources of Indoor Air Pollution
Unfortunately, we all are less aware of the fact that pollution inside our homes does not only come from what is there on the outside. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, indoor air quality is just as bad as the air we breathe outdoors. However, proper maintenance can help you stay healthy and away from a lot of health problems. The concept of indoor air pollutants may include not only the sources but also the ability to identify what can be causing them in excess and how you can eliminate those deterrents ASAP.
However, since various pollutants can be traced inside every home and blaming just a single cause isn’t the answer, here we bust your myths and tell you about the most common ones that worsen the air quality inside and also lead to dangerous health risks. And trust us – you wouldn’t even have thought these ruin the air quality.
- Chemical-based household cleaning supplies like air fresheners, window cleaners, chlorine bleach, oven cleaners, detergent, and dishwashing liquid floor cleaners, etc.
- Personal care products like perfumes and hairsprays
- Poor ventilation
- Motor vehicular air pollutants
- Combustible products like fireplaces, wooden stove, heaters, scented candles, cigarettes, oil, kerosene, and coal
- The building or furnishing materials like asbestos or paint
- Smoke from cooking or other fuel-burning appliances
- Humidity or leakage leading to bacteria and mold development
- Biological pollutants like mites, fungi, pollen, parasites, pet hair or dander
- Pesticides sprayed in your lawn, street, or neighborhood.
- Infiltration of gasses like radon emitted from the soil and formaldehyde emission from insulation foam, carpets or particle boards
This list can possibly be endless, but we want you to at least stay aware of the common pollutants that are right in front of your eyes, but you may just not have enough knowledge.
However, when these contaminate the indoor air quality, it starts affecting your overall health. Just because you sweep and mop regularly doesn’t mean it is really that comfortable inside. Day by day, these invisible pollutants start deteriorating your immune system; therefore, it is suggested that you keep a close watch at any symptoms that may have recently begun to show up. If you do not know what to look for, we have got you covered. And, taking proper measures is an essential aspect, so you and your family breathe cleaner and fresher air at least when inside the home.
The next section tells you what all conditions indicate that something is wrong with your indoor health.
Symptoms of Indoor Air Pollution
Now that you understand that the accumulation of contaminants inside can lead to poor indoor quality, recognizing the symptoms is also equally important. People mostly ignore the discomforts or do not realize until the condition gets severe. Moreover, some people are less sensitive to these contaminants, while the other few may be affected immediately after a single exposure. Whatsoever, it won’t take long for anyone to responding to these toxic elements present in our indoor air.
Some of the common signs may include headache, sneezing attacks, fatigue, persistent coughing, sore throat, stuffed/ itchy nose, red/ watery eyes, irritated skin, nausea, and losing concentration, etc.
These are relatively mild and noticeable symptoms, but if you do not pay attention to your wellbeing, it can lead to more significant, life-threatening health risks like the following:
The condition is categorized by persistent coughing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and wheezing. When you are exposed to any triggers, the signs worsen by at least 40%, especially in summers. So you must consult with your physician if you experience uneasiness. Also, no matter what, focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet, and a regular exercise routine.
Chronic respiratory infections, such as rhinitis, are equally harmful and discomforting as allergic disorders like asthma. So, chronic rhinitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, and influenza are some other commonly observed health problems that arise due to poor indoor quality. Also, the severity may increase during spring and wintertime, leading to excessive mucus production, breathing difficulties, and chest problems.
Chronic Lung Infections
According to several surveys, radon gas entrapment inside improperly maintained houses is one of the significant reasons that kills most people due to severe lung infections, after cigarette smoking. Radon also leads to indoor pollution besides other sources of contamination like coal, biomass, and kerosene, etc. Diseases may include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary hypertension, chronic pneumonia, and cystic fibrosis, etc.
Poor indoor air quality leaves a considerable impact even on your work performance. It makes your daily activities seem quite uncomfortable, and you feel more anxious or irritated. And, people who do not feel well, do not work either. Also, indoor environmental quality influences the next day’s work performance and you may consistently feel a lack of quality sleep.
Inadequate ventilation makes it even worse. You may feel fatigued despite having six to eight hours of sleep. Therefore, keeping your work or home environment clean and fresh is essential, so you are not exhausted and can keep your productive spirits high.
Can You Or Can You Not Do Anything About It?
Of course, you can! And you must!
To stay safe and also keep your family healthy, you must take the necessary steps and improve the indoor environment.
Number 1, ensure there is proper ventilation, so it brings in the fresh air and also helps remove contamination.
Next, make your property a smoke-free zone. You might not be smoking around your friends or family, but it still affects them to a great extent if it is inside, and there is no ventilation. So, make sure you are smoking outside or have a quality air purifier to clean the environment further.
You might get a bit lazy, but do not ignore the importance of keeping your home clean. Make it a habit to clean the furniture, change your linens, wash the sheets, broom the floor, and scrub the stains, etc.
And finally, on the major front, you must fix water damage or any moisture-related problems to reduce humidity in the environment and restrict the development of other related issues.
Final Words for Health Risks Associated With Poor Indoor Air Quality …
In the end, the lesson is not to overlook the environment that you feel is the safest. Overlooking might be causing you even further problems. If you are taking the vital measure to keep the environment free from allergens, you are only investing in your own self. But, if you are allowing the contaminants to build up to a dangerous level, those elements may start overpowering your health.
Just because you cannot see it, does not mean it is not there. Poor indoor quality always indicates its presence; you just have to be willing to see the other side and keep yourself prepared.