Being wary of the growing outdoor air pollutants is commonplace for most of us today. An increasing number of fumes are released, there are more toxic gases, and industrialization shows no signs of slowing down. All the above added to the minimal efforts taken individually to reduce the pollution we contribute is causing a mounting problem for us now.
We must also envision a similar picture of the pollution that we create within the walls of our houses. With all the devices, minimal ventilation due to crowding, and contribution of the outdoor air pollution, our homes often emulate a similar dismal air pollution standard.
What Is Causing Indoor Air Pollution?
It is the contribution of several sources within indoor spaces that lead to air pollution.
Air circulation within indoor spaces tends to drop if not well ventilated or connected to an outdoor air source. As a result, toxic air can build up over time even if pollutants were initially low.
Certain air temperatures and a rise in humidity can further increase the concentration of indoor air pollutants.
Accumulation of particulates and indoor gases are the primary contributors to indoor air pollution.
The main sources of air pollution within households are devices that burn fuel—for instance, stovetops, heaters, fireplaces, water heaters, and ovens. The resulting fumes can become trapped inside a house for extended periods. This accumulation depends on how long they burned and the ventilation within a household.
Activities such as tobacco smoking and using chemicals for cleaning and personal care can contribute to indoor air pollution. In addition, attempts to regularly redecorate your home can also increase the pollutants circulating indoors. While these may be a once-in-a-while event, it increases the number of contaminants that add to regulars, such as those from fuel-burning devices.
While seemingly unlikely, furniture and insulating materials used within buildings are also contributors to indoor air pollution.
Am I Vulnerable To Indoor Air Pollution?
As with outdoor air pollution, anyone can be affected by indoor air pollution.
The World Health Organization recorded a staggering 3.8 million deaths purely due to indoor air pollution caused by the inappropriate use of fuels for cooking. While many of these numbers come from countries that solely rely on solid fuels to run their homes, it highlights a silent problem with minimal awareness.
Many are not aware of the impacts of indoor air pollution primarily due to the scarce presentation of early symptoms. Yet, it is when pollutants accumulate over time with long-term exposure that effects of indoor air pollution on human health become visible.
Indoor air pollution contributes as a risk factor toward several disease conditions such as pneumonia, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. It is crucial to note that these are also leading causes of death in several parts of the globe.
People living with health conditions such as COPD, asthma, or even heart disease or diabetes are more susceptible to the effects of indoor air pollution.
Children are also a vital vulnerable subset to consider. For one, their immunity is still developing, which means they cannot tolerate even the initial impact of exposure to pollutants.
Similarly, the elderly have a waning immune response. Moreover, many aged people are riddled with chronic illnesses, which could lower their ability to tackle pollutants.
How Can I Lower Indoor Air Pollution?
First off it would be best to assess the ventilation inside your house. This inspection means checking all rooms receive some circulation with the outside air to prevent pollutants from accumulating indoors.
When conducting activities such as spraying your hair, using polishes, managing maintenance work within your home, consider keeping windows open throughout the process.
In some scenarios, such as cooking, ensure the space is ventilating properly: the exhaust is working, and the kitchen windows are open. Your cooking devices should also undergo regular maintenance checks to minimize device leaks and malfunction. Ill-functioning devices use more fuel, meaning they contribute even more to indoor pollution.
Another great way to minimize indoor air pollution is to reduce clutter and maintain the upkeep of your house. A clutter-free home reduces the risks of pests and mold becoming unwanted presences in it. Additionally, cleaning will also become more manageable. Dust on surfaces, including carpets, contribute to particulates among the air pollutants.
Households also need to regularly check for toxic gases such as radon and carbon monoxide.
Invest in air purifiers and plants. While the former requires a larger investment, many polluted cities warrant the use of air purifiers indoors.
A lot of the methods to manage indoor air pollution are relatively simple. Moreover, being aware of how your household devices and products function, along with their chemical components, assists in being aware of their contribution to your indoor air pollution.
Once you start tracking symptoms such as persistent headaches, difficulty breathing, disturbed sleep, chronic cough, stinging in the eyes, without a legitimate cause for them, consider exploring indoor air pollution as a source.