I ndoor air quality is a matter of importance for us all as most of our time is spent indoors, whether at home or at the office. Woefully, while the issue of outdoor air pollution is a severe one, to say the least, the surprising and unfortunately true fact is that indoor air pollution is substantially worse. Seeing how proportionally you spend more time in enclosed spaces, the situation is aggravated and your health can suffer serious repercussions if air pollution is not dealt with properly.
Air purification systems are available for all budgets and needs, but most systems specialize in ridding the air of specific pollutants and particles. That’s why you need to be informed on what the common pollution sources are to beware of what you are likely dealing with and how to get rid of the problem as effectively as possible. Here, we will cover everything there is to know, starting with the sources and causes of unhealthy indoor air, and finishing with proper fixes for the pressing issue at hand.
While the sources of indoor air quality deprecation can be many, there are a few factors and causes that are common and found in most buildings all over the world. Even the smallest things and actions can lead to air pollution, not to mention the use of various cleaning products, devices, and so on.
Interesting fact: High temperature and humidity also affect pollution levels, so you must make sure to upkeep thermal comfort and maintain humidity levels in check through the use of humidifiers and dehumidifier, depending on what the situation at hand demands.
Most common indoor air quality deprecating pollutants and sources:
- Cigarette smoke: With more than 7,000 substances in it, secondhand smoke is a Group A carcinogen that can lead to dire health effects and that is released into the air when people light up cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. To eliminate tobacco smoke particles from the air, ventilation doesn’t suffice, extra measures being needed, like the use of a specialty air filtration system.
- Biological contaminants: This is a vast category that includes pollen, mites, pet dander, bacteria, viruses, dust, and mold. The sources are many as the contaminants can originate from plants, be transmitted through air from other people, pets, or carried from outside to the interior, be caused by improper moistness levels, from droppings of rodents, insects, and pests, saliva or skin flakes of house pets, and even from improperly cared for central air handling systems.
- Particulate matter: Can originate either from outdoors, migrating into the house via open doors and windows or through people, or can be caused by an indoor source. The sources for PM pollution indoors generally include cooking, stoves, environmental tobacco smoke, chimneys, fireplaces, unvented heaters, even certain hobbies.
- VOCs: Gases that are emitted from solids or liquids, this category comprising multiple chemicals that can pose various levels of threat to your health. Some household products that are at fault for VOC contamination include paints, solvents, pesticide, aerosol sprays, air fresheners, chemical cleaners, disinfectants, wood preservatives, adhesives, certain building materials, and dry-cleaned clothes.
- Carbon monoxide: A toxic gas that is odorless and colorless, CO is likely the most dangerous air pollutant of them all as chances are it will be too late before you figure out the air is plagued with it. The sources that lead to indoor air pollution with CO include gas stoves, unvented heaters that use kerosene and gas, leaking furnaces and chimneys, tobacco smoke, worn combustion devices, and generators.
How It Impacts Your Health
Depending on the pollutants affecting indoor air quality, their prevalence, and for how long you are exposed to them before taking any action, you can suffer immediate health effects or have your health damaged in the long-run, even feeling repercussions years apart from living in the unsafe environment.
Exposure to some contaminants can lead to immediate health effects that include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. If you have a pre-existing condition like asthma or allergies, the presence of particular contaminants will trigger symptoms almost on the spot as well. Say if you were allergic to pets and in the room dog dander would linger, you would immediately start sneezing and wheezing because of the symptom-triggering pollutant. Generally, proper ventilation, quick use of an air purifier, or simply leaving the environment will help you relieve these immediate health effects and feel better.
There are cases where health effects appear after years of exposure, and generally these long-term effects are much more serious and dire as they include the appearance of respiratory disease, heart disease, and even cancer. Luckily, chances are that you won’t face these repercussions as, since you are here, it means that you are more than aware of how important clean air indoors is and you will take appropriate action to solve pollution issues to avoid sitting in a health-threatening environment any longer.
Solutions to Solve Indoor Air Pollution
- Air cleaner: Hands down, air purification systems are the optimal solution to clear the air indoors of pollutants and microorganisms. Moreover, there are specialized systems that handle the removal of specific pollutants primarily, so you can acquire the one that puts most emphasis on the air contamination issue plaguing your home. Air purifiers are classified according to the space where you intend to place them in as well, most notably air filtration systems for basements differing from models suited for single-room use as they provide wider area coverage and focus on air pollution issues typical for this space, like mold spores.
- Proper ventilation: Another surefire method is to make sure more air from the outdoors is circulating inside. Either open the windows more often, or turn on the fan or air conditioner whenever you can. No matter what route you go with, just make sure that stale air doesn’t become an issue as this is the most common reasoning for poor air quality in any building.
- Attack the problem at its root: A proven method to keep air pollution in check is to eliminate the sources causing the issues to begin with or at least reduce their impact as much as possible. You can enclose sources that contain asbestos, make sure you take proper care of heaters, fireplaces, boilers, and similar appliances, and properly use gas stoves and heaters, to name a few actions you should perform.
- Regular cleaning: Accumulation of dust, pet dander, and mold can only be solved properly if you keep everything clean, not only the air, but floor and furniture as well. Vacuum the carpets and area rugs two times per week and mop hard-surface flooring at least once every 6-7 days, regularly change and clean drapes, bedding, and other allergen-attracting items, and make sure that you don’t ever let things run out of hand as clutter always spells danger for air quality.
- Proper humidity upkeep: As aforementioned, disarray RH levels also take a toll on air quality, and while there are specialized systems that either raise or decrease humidity levels, your best bet is to use an air purifier and humidifier combo system in case moistness is low as the device tends to two important actions for the price of a single product, clearing the air of impurities while adding humidity into the air.
While preventable up to a point, indoor air pollution is an issue you most effectively handle via an air purification system combined with proper ventilation and all of the aforementioned tricks if you want to see promising results and keep your health in check. Health and comfort are both impacted by air quality, and controlling the sources that lead to pollution indoors is important, as well as resolving it as effectively as possible so that life quality improvement is granted. Now that you know what are the common sources for this issue and how to fix it, you can create an enjoyable, healthy habitat for you and your loved ones, improving life expectancy and quality as a result as well.