What you need to know about indoor air
In the last several years it has come to our attention that indoor air quality can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air quality. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pollutant levels are two to five times higher indoors than outdoors. This becomes a big health concern because the majority of people spend 90% of their time indoors. Indoor pollution sources that release gases or particles into the air are the primary causes of indoor air quality problems in homes. Poor indoor air quality has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs.
Types of Pollutants:
- Particulate Matter: Includes dust, smoke, pollen, animal dander, tobacco smoke, particles generated from combustion appliances such as cooking stoves, and particles associated with tiny organisms such as dust mites, molds, bacteria, and viruses.
- Gaseous Matter: Sources include gas cooking stoves, vehicle exhaust, and tobacco smoke. They also come from building materials, furnishings, and the use of products such as adhesives, paints, varnishes, cleaning products, and pesticides.
Improving Indoor Air Quality
- Control the source of the air pollution – It is always the most effective to control the source of the air pollution to reduce their emissions. Gas stoves for example can be set on lower settings, smokers can smoke outdoors, and furniture can be purchased without building materials that contain any sort of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
- Improve Ventilation – Better ventilation will improve indoor air quality by bringing fresh air into the home. However, some indoor air pollutants originate outside and opening the window on a high pollen count day or in a smoggy city may not be the best idea. Homes that are built to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can “leak” indoor and outdoor are more likely to have higher pollutant levels than other homes.
- The EPA recommends purchasing an air purifier to help improve indoor air quality. Air purifiers are intended to remove unwanted pollutants from the air to provide clean quality air. The HEPA filter is the most effective in removing particulate matter and the activated carbon filter is the most efficient in removing gaseous matter. It is often that these filters are used together to effectively remove both particulate and gaseous matter.
Air purifiers alone cannot solve bad indoor air problems. It is most important to stop the source that is causing the air pollution to prevent long term health effects. Over the years health effects may cause some respiratory diseases, heart diseases, and cancer. Though symptoms may not be noticeable, it is strongly recommended to try to improve indoor air quality.
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