What Is Indoor Air Pollution and What Causes It?
When most people think about air pollution, they usually imagine smog, car emission, factory smoke, and the like. However, these are all examples of outdoor air pollution. You may think you are safe from such pollutants inside your home, but this is far from the truth.
Indoor air pollution is actually more dangerous than outdoor kind. It’s, hence, extremely important to understand what it is and how it comes about. From there, you can start making an effort to combat this danger:
Defining Indoor Air Pollution
Air pollution is comprised of many elements. Many people may think that the major culprits are smog, car emissions, factory smoke, etc. They won’t be wrong, but these aren’t the only major contributors to air pollution. In fact, they might not even be the most dangerous ones. It’s when these elements get into the home and combine with indoor pollutants that things get really serious. This pollution is what we call indoor air pollution.
Indoor air pollution comes about when indoor areas are affected by poisonous gases, chemicals, and other dangerous substances. Since these elements are contained within a relatively smaller space than the open outside, indoor air pollution could actually be more detrimental for health. The result could be an increase in respiratory diseases like asthma or even fatal ones like cancer.
Causes of Indoor Air Pollution
The causes of indoor air pollution are many and varied. Some may even depend on the place where you live, the household products you use, and even how you cook at home. The level of pollution would also be affected by the absence or presence of good airflow, proper ventilation, and the age of the building itself. Here are just a few causes of air pollution in offices, homes, and several other indoor spaces:
While air fryers and sous vide ovens are gaining more popularity, many people still stick to the pots and pans to get their cooking done. This could include using gas, wood, coal, charcoal, dung, or any other kind of waste. Even if you do use electric methods of cooking, the temperature in your building would rise as a result of this activity. If not properly handled, the heat could lead to an increase in air pollutants, toxins, and several other kinds of house pollution.
Concentration of Pollutants
The number of pollutants in the house may not be higher than the outside, but the air pollution inside is in a much smaller space, which means it could easily harm any person who is within the building’s boundaries. Thus, it’s no surprise that indoor air pollution is responsible for a whopping 2 million deaths every year.
This is believed to be the main cause of indoor air pollution. It’s found in several materials, especially those that are commonly utilized by the automotive industry. The home construction industry is related to this, so you might find asbestos in your ceiling tiles, floor tiles, building material, paints, and coatings. However, the newer kinds of materials usually don’t have asbestos, so you should only check for this particular trigger if your house or workplace is a relatively old one.
The presence of asbestos can lead to lung and several other kinds of cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. These diseases could be life-threatening, so make sure to take the relevant steps if you discover asbestos in your home.
This is another major cause that needs to be controlled as soon as possible. It may have been officially banned in the US since 1970 but may still turn up in wooden flooring, paints, and sealants.
This harmful substance is usually found in home with bedrock or similar materials. It can seep into the walls and provide a great risk for those living within them. More about radon here.
There’s a reason why many smokers are told to smoke outside the house. Having tobacco smoke permeates the walls of a house or office building can serve to pollute the indoor air in a much more lasting manner than if the smoke was blown outside.
Contaminants from Damp Environments
There are several types of contaminants like mildew, mold, and fungus that grow outside in a damp environment. If you are not careful, their spores could come floating inside and make a home within your home. These could also include animal dander, dust mites, and bacteria.
All of these combined would raise the risk of allergies, even if you don’t go outside. These usually include irritation in the throat, influenza, and several kinds of infections.
Apart from stoves and appliances, there are several other places where your house could be heated to a dangerous level. These would include space heaters, fireplaces, and even gas heaters if you have them. The result would be an emission of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. There are still a large number of people who use such sources to heat their houses or some specific room. When used daily, these sources would definitely increase indoor air pollution by a large amount.
Lead is a poisonous substance but, unfortunately, one that’s commonly used in old houses. There may even be lead paint in the house, which could lead to lead poisoning if consumed by children. Even if no one actually ingests the substance, they could get seriously sick by just inhaling its odor.
If lead poisoning takes place, the results could be highly severe. These would include anemia, problems in the cardiovascular system, kidney failure, nerve damage, and even brain damage.
Many homeowners use varnishes, cleaning products, and paints that emit smells and chemicals into the air. If the area being treated by such chemical is not properly ventilated, the indoor air pollution would be sure to reach new heights.
The steps taken toward combating indoor air pollution may be relatively new and unfamiliar. However, it is to be hoped that this technology would become more common and inexpensive as time wears on. We can only make efforts to leave a cleaner future for our future generations, both inside and out.
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