In our cities, the air we breathe is not clean. Coal plants and factories belch out harmful CO2, trucks and cars spew filthy exhaust fumes. Many families in our cities rely on coal and wood fires for heating and cooking. On the outskirts, cows and other farm animals add methane to the mix. Sometimes just looking out your window at all the pollution may be enough to make you stay indoors. However, indoor air may even be more polluted!
Pollutants can build up more in the closed much smaller areas of your home than in open areas because they may not be released to the outside. As a result, the degradation of indoor air quality can be worse than outdoor air pollution.
You may think indoor air pollution does not apply to you. Furthermore, you do not live near a highway, farm or industrial plant. You do not smoke and you do not use a wood-burning stove. However, the air you breathe may still be polluted.
Some very surprising sources cause indoor air pollution:
- Your house itself.
- The land on which your house is constructed.
In addition, most people spend a large portion of their time indoors. Indoor pollution can then become a serious concern.
Side effects of pollution
Some side effects of indoor air pollution may be a little worse than the common cold. But, long-term exposure can lead to coma, lung cancer and death.
The likelihood is 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.
For instance, 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. If you or someone in your family smokes do it outside the home to avoid pollution of the air inside your home.
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. When you don’t open windows and doors after using showers and baths mould will form on walls and ceilings. Furthermore, prevent condensation of windows and walls in your bedroom by keeping a window open while you sleep.
Unvented gas heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces and gas stoves emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and small particles. Therefore, be careful when using solid fuels like wood and coal for heating and cooking. Make sure the room or house is well-ventilated.
Paint, varnishes, hobby products, air fresheners and cleaning products release organic chemicals causing pollution in indoor air. Therefore, be careful with their use and storage.
Furthermore, up to 80% of exposure to pesticides happens indoors. Many homes have pesticides in indoor air at measurable levels. In addition, the potential harm from pollutants is dependent on individual sensitivity. Older people, the young and those with compromised immune systems are more susceptible.
Therefore, ventilation plays an important role in air quality and 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 to get rid of the pollution in the indoor air!
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