"When you think of air pollution, you probably think of giant industrial smokestacks, or thousands of cars in gridlock traffic. Perhaps you visualize the smoggy haze that clings to big cities, or you imagine what acid rain sounds like. When you think of air pollution, you think of the air outside. Luckily you can retreat to the safety of the clean air in your home, right?
Actually, the air quality in your home can be worse than the air quality outside.
It’s easy to believe that the air quality outside is worse than the air quality inside. We know about air pollution and acid rain, we can see smoke and smell exhaust, and we might even hold our breaths when we see that semi truck spew thick clouds of black smoke ahead of us in traffic. According to the EPA, however, the levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases these levels can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants. In other words, sometimes the air inside can be more harmful than the air outside." Read more from this article here.
WHAT CAUSES INDOOR AIR POLLUTION?
Although smoking and burning solid fuel inside the home are two major sources of indoor air pollution, they’re not the only ones. Insulation that contains asbestos can be inhaled as it deteriorates.
For many people, those causes aren’t an issue. Some of the other common contributors to poor indoor air quality are:
Flooring and carpeting
Beauty and personal care products
Outdoor pollution sources, such as smog, radon and pesticides
Central HVAC systems
Certain pressed wood products are held together with toxic adhesives. These chemicals may be found in new cabinetry, desks, dressers and other pieces.
Flooring, upholstery and carpets can release harmful chemicals. According to one survey of consumer goods, many fragrances that are found in laundry detergents, scented candles and cleaning supplies can react with the environment and create toxins within the home.
Moisture plays a major role in indoor air quality. High humidity helps mold, allergens and dust mites thrive. When some people touch or inhale mold spores, they react with symptoms that are similar to a common cold.
According to the EPA, mold can trigger asthma attacks. It can also cause delayed symptoms, which makes it hard to pinpoint as the cause of health problems.
In urban environments, exposure to airborne mouse allergens is a problem, according to this study.
Air Pollution Is Making Office Workers Less Productive
"Businesses invest a great deal of time and money in interventions that claim to increase workers’ productivity through on-the-job training, new protocols, advice from consultants, and so on. Recent research suggests that there’s a surprising input into productivity that no one ever thinks about: clean air.
We all know that air pollution is bad for our health, and researchers continue to find evidence of pollution’s negative effects. But recent research has gone further, starting to catalog how pollution might affect our productivity. Several studies have demonstrated that pollution reduces the output of both farm workers and factory workers. When pollution levels — namely outdoor ozone and indoor particulate matter — increase, physical laborers can’t help but slow down.
But what about the productivity of indoor workers who sit in front of a computer all day? We wanted to know whether those workers were hurt by pollution too. To find out, we investigated the effect of air pollution on call-center workers at Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency. Workers at Ctrip are knowledge workers; they spend their day not in a factory or on a farm, but handling customers’ phone calls. If they’re affected by pollution, then we might all be vulnerable." Read more of this article here.
HOW ARE CHILDREN AFFECTED BY INDOOR AIR POLLUTION?
Many studies have looked into the link between outdoor environmental pollution and asthma. However, researchers are only beginning to discover the effects of poor indoor air quality on the respiratory condition.
Asthma keeps kids out of school more than any other chronic illness. Even if their symptoms are mild, students with allergies and sensitivity to mold, mildew and dust may take medicines that interfere with their ability to learn. Research shows that indoor air pollution might affect children who have decreased lung function more than outdoor air pollution.
Even if students don’t have asthma, they breathe at a faster rate than adults. The EPA says that a three-month-old baby takes in 35 times more air than an adult. Children’s lungs also developing rapidly well into adolescence.
Because most children are in school for at least seven hours a day, it’s vital to consider the cleanliness of the air they breathe. The EPA does take into account the difference between the way children and adults react to environmental hazards. The Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit provides solutions for improving indoor air pollution without spending a lot of money or implementing fancy equipment.
INDOOR AIR POLLUTION AND THE ELDERLY
People who are older than 65 are especially susceptible to respiratory and cardiovascular problems. Poor indoor air quality can make these conditions worse and increase the risk of complications. Science Daily published a study run by the European Lung Foundation that found that indoor air pollution in nursing homes in several countries had a detrimental effect on respiratory health.
As life expectancy increases, more people are living in assisted care facilities. Two of the most common respiratory diseases in the elderly population are COPD and bronchial asthma. According to Everyday Health, air pollution can make a big difference in quality of life for people who have COPD. Irritants in the air can make these individuals’ already inflamed lungs work harder than they should.
Many experts rightly say that older adults with breathing problems should avoid going outdoors on days when the AQI is high. However, they are just starting to realize that the problem may stem from the indoor air that they breathe most of the time.
One study found that adding air filters to the bedroom made a difference in older individuals who did not take medication for respiratory or lung diseases. Another study determined that people aged 60 to 75 saw an 8-percent improvement in vascular function after filtering the air in their homes for two days.
It’s especially important to focus on improving the quality of the air in environments that house people whose health and immunity are already compromised.