In our cities, the air we breathe is not clean. Coal plants belch harmful CO2, 18-wheelers spew filthy exhaust and cows add methane to the mix. Sometimes just looking out your window at all the pollution may be enough to make you stay indoors.
The degradation of indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor air pollution. Potential pollutants build up more in closed than open areas because they cannot find a suitable release.
You may think indoor air pollution does not apply to you. Furthermore, you may think because you do not live near a highway, farm or industrial plant the air you breathe is clean. You do not smoke and you do not use a wood-burning stove.
Some very surprising sources cause indoor air pollution:
- The house itself.
- The land on which the house is constructed.
In addition, we spend approximately 80 percent of our time indoors. Indoor pollution then becomes a serious concern.
Side effects of pollution
Some side effects of indoor air pollution are little worse than the common cold. But, long-term exposure can lead to a coma, lung cancer, and death.
The odds are that you encounter at least one harmful chemical in your home every day. Even if this is not the case you may not yet be safe, e.g. using spray paint indoors can release high levels of air pollutants in a very short time.
Chemicals leaching out of your carpet will, over time, severely affect the air quality.
Listed below are some most common causes of indoor air pollution:
Cigarette smoke carries many toxins. It remains within contained spaces and can cause many medical problems for humans and pets.
Biological contaminants include bacteria, mould, mildew, viruses, animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches and pollen. Many of these are carried into the house or grow in damp, warm environments.
Unvented gas heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces and gas stoves emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and small particles. More than 3 billion people worldwide continue to rely on solid fuels like wood and coal for their energy needs.
Paint, varnishes, hobby products and cleaning products release organic chemicals. Therefore, be careful with their use and storage.
80% of exposure to pesticides happens indoors. Up to 12 pesticides have been detected in indoor air at measurable levels. The potential harm from pollutants is dependent on individual sensitivity. The elderly, the young and those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible.
Ventilation also plays a role in how these pollutants harm you. If fresh air frequently circulates throughout the area, pesticides won’t accumulate and reach dangerous levels. Open windows and doors when the weather is nice, and especially after a lightning storm when the air is cleaner.