7 Effects of Indoor Air Pollution

When we talk about the effects of indoor air pollution, we are referring to the effects of indoor air pollution on man’s health including adults and children. 

Adults and children are affected differently by indoor air pollution. The child breathing zone, defined as a region up to one meter from the floor, is where children spend the majority of their time indoors. This means that seemingly innocuous household tasks like laying carpets or painting rooms can hurt children, resulting in major health problems. Current ventilation systems assume that contaminants are distributed evenly.

Tripathy and la Quatro’s study has proven that different pollutants can present in different strata in the air and that when pollutants like dust are disturbed, they can be suspended in the air. Indoor air pollution causes serious health problems that can be avoided.

According to WHO,

Household air pollution causes noncommunicable diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer. Close to half of deaths due to pneumonia among children under 5 years of age are caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.

Proper ventilation is one of the most effective measures of prevention. When combined with increased awareness and comprehension of the risk, these simple strategies can help lower the risk of indoor air pollution exposure for both children and adults.

There are other simple and inexpensive ways to detect toxic gases in your house. When placed in your house, a carbon monoxide detector can detect leaks in malfunctioning stoves, fireplaces, and other gases and appliances. Another option is a radon detector, which may detect odorless, colorless radon gas produced from the earth beneath your home.

Continue reading for examples of indoor air contaminants you should be aware of to be informed and safe.

Examples of Indoor Air Pollution

The following are some examples of indoor air pollution

  • Radon
  • Volatiles
  • Formaldehyde
  • Tobacco
  • Nitrogen Oxide
  • Particulates
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Biologicals

1. Radon

As an odorless, colorless, tasteless, and invisible gas, the radioactive element radon rises through the soil. Radon must be ventilated in your Phoenix home to prevent hazardous buildup. Testing for radon in your house can be done by an HVAC professional. Radon is created when uranium in water, soil, and stones breaks down and generates a gas, according to Everyday Health. Radon enters your home through gaps in the walls and floors, rising heated air, the area around plumbing, fireplaces, furnaces, outdoor ventilation, and concrete joints.

2. Volatiles

Paints, cleaning chemicals, glue, insecticides, home printers, hairspray, permanent markers, and even fabrics and upholstery emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). For these, an HVAC expert might discuss high-efficiency air filters.

3. Formaldehyde

This chemical can harm your respiratory and immunological systems and is found in flooring, carpets, upholstery, curtains, compressed wood furniture, and other products. With filtering, not even your HVAC specialist can get rid of formaldehyde. Your home requires adequate ventilation and the elimination of the source, if possible.

4. Tobacco

If someone in your house smokes cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, your home is likely to be extensively polluted with tobacco compounds and toxins. High-quality air filtration and either HEPA or deep-media filters are required to remove this class of indoor air contaminants. Make your house a smoke-free environment.

5. Nitrogen Oxide

Poor combustion produces nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which irritate the lungs and mucous membranes (eyes and mouth). To avoid major health implications, they, like radon, must be vented and their sources removed. Ovens, stoves, inadequately vented equipment, kerosene heaters, welding, and cigarette smoke are all sources.

6. Particulates

When you utilize alternative heating sources like coal, wood pellets, or a wood stove, some smoke is released into the air. Smoke particulates can fly through the air and into your lungs. These lung-damaging particles will be reduced through air purification and furnace filtration.

7. Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is odorless, colorless, and invisible. CO detectors can help you stay informed, but even a well-maintained furnace can leak CO if your HVAC technician fails to ensure appropriate sealing.

8. Biologicals

Only one sort of biological air pollutant is insect parts. A long list is mentioned by the Environmental Protection Agency, including:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Molds
  • Pet saliva and dander
  • Dried rodent urine
  • Mildew spores and hyphae

Effects of Indoor Air Pollution

The effects of indoor air pollution can occur immediately after exposure or years later.

Some effects of indoor air pollution on health may appear rapidly after a single or several pollution exposures. Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as headaches, dizziness, and weariness, are among them. These kinds of acute effects are usually temporary and curable.

If the source of the pollution can be located, the treatment may consist of merely removing the person’s exposure to it. Symptoms of disorders like asthma may appear, be aggravated, or worsen soon after exposure to some indoor air pollutants.

Other health problems may appear years after exposure or only after prolonged or repeated exposure. Some respiratory problems, heart disease, and cancer are among the side effects of indoor air pollution that can be highly disabling or fatal. Even if no symptoms are present, it is prudent to try to enhance the indoor air quality in your home.

According to the World Health Organization, almost 4 million people die prematurely each year as a result of sickness caused by inefficient cooking techniques involving polluting stoves and solid fuels like kerosene. Among the nearly 4 million deaths were:

  • 27% are due to pneumonia
  • 18% from stroke
  • 27% from ischaemic heart disease
  • 20% from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • 8% from lung cancer.

1. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is one of the effects of indoor air pollution. Household air pollution nearly doubles the risk of pediatric pneumonia, accounting for 45 percent of all pneumonia deaths in children under the age of five. Adults are at risk for acute lower respiratory infections (pneumonia) from household air pollution, which accounts for 28% of all pneumonia deaths.

2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of the effects of indoor air pollution. In low- and middle-income nations, exposure to household air pollution causes one out of every four fatalities from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is more than twice as common in women who are exposed to high amounts of indoor smoke than in women who utilize cleaner fuels and technology. Exposure to household air pollution nearly doubles the risk of COPD in men (who already have a higher risk of COPD due to their higher rates of smoking).

3. Stroke

The everyday exposure to household air pollution caused by cooking with solid fuels and kerosene is responsible for 12% of all stroke deaths making it one of the major effects of indoor air pollution.

4. Ischaemic heart disease

Among other effects of indoor air pollution, we have Ischaemic heart disease. Exposure to household air pollution is responsible for around 11% of all deaths related to ischemic heart disease, accounting for over a million premature deaths per year.

5. Lung cancer

One of the most popular and major effects of indoor air pollution is lung cancer. Exposure to carcinogens from household air pollution generated by cooking with kerosene or solid fuels like wood, charcoal, or coal is responsible for about 17% of lung cancer deaths in adults. Because of their role in food preparation, women are at a higher risk.

6. Other Effects of Indoor Air Pollution on Health

Other effects of indoor air pollution on health include small particulates and other pollutants in indoor smoke which irritates the airways and lungs, decreases immunological response, and lowers the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity. Household air pollution has also been linked to low birth weight, TB, cataracts, and nasopharyngeal and laryngeal malignancies.

High blood pressure, a poor diet, a lack of physical activity, and smoking are all risk factors for death from ischemic heart disease and stroke. Other causes of childhood pneumonia include inadequate breastfeeding, being underweight, and being exposed to secondhand smoke. Active smoking and secondhand tobacco smoke are also major risk factors for lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

7. Effects of Indoor Air Pollution on Health Equity, Development, and Climate Change

Without significant policy changes, the total number of people without access to clean fuels and technology will remain substantially constant by 2030 (International Energy Agency, 2017 (1)), making the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development more difficult to attain.

  • Fuel gathering raises the risk of musculoskeletal injury, takes up a lot of time for women and children, hinders other useful activities (like money creation), and keeps kids out of school. Women and children are at risk of harm and assault while obtaining fuel in less safe locations.
  • Inefficient stove burning emits black carbon (sooty particles) and methane, which are potent climate change pollutants.
  • Many of the fuels and technology that people use in their homes for cooking, heating, and lighting are dangerous. Kerosene poisoning is the main cause of childhood poisoning, and household energy use for cooking, heating, and/or lighting is connected to a substantial percentage of serious burns and injuries in low- and middle-income nations.
  • The lack of power for one billion people (many of whom rely on kerosene lamps to light their homes) exposes households to extremely high amounts of fine particulate matter. Other health concerns, such as burns, accidents, and poisonings, are introduced by the use of polluting lighting fuels, while other chances for health and development, such as studying or engaging in small crafts and trades, are limited.

Solutions to Indoor Air Pollution

So, how do you increase the quality of the air you breathe thereby the effects of indoor air pollution? Let’s look at a few options.

  • HEPA Filters
  • Vacuum
  • HVAC Filters
  • Plants
  • Clear the clutter
  • Make sure your home, office, or car is appropriately ventilated.
  • Do not smoke indoors.
  • Get rid of odors; don’t ask them
  • Control critters
  • If feasible, remove the carpeting.
  • Take your shoes off at the door.
  • Use air fresheners sparingly.
  • Make sure trash is covered.

1. HEPA Filters

To remove dust, spores, mites, and other particles from the air, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can be used as air purifiers or linked to vacuum machines. An appliance is only deemed a HEPA filter if it catches 99.97 percent of particles 0.3 microns or larger, according to The Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology. To put things in perspective, the emissions from a car starting up to start at 1 micron.

2. Vacuum

Vacuuming is critical for improving indoor air quality, particularly if you have carpets or dogs. Vacuuming at least three times a week is suggested to keep dust levels low.

3. HVAC Filters

HVAC filters (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) clean the air that enters and exits the various units throughout your house. These filters keep your systems running smoothly while reducing the number of unpleasant particles in the air.

4. Plants

NASA has identified houseplants as “nature’s life support system,” and they are an important component in enhancing indoor air quality. They absorb not only carbon dioxide from the air but also particles that bind to CO2. In addition, soil microorganisms have been discovered to remove volatile organic chemicals from the air. The same NASA studies imply that indoor plants are an effective approach to help regulate and reduce the consequences of air pollution.

5. Clear the clutter

The more clutter you have in your house, the more places dust may hide. Decluttering not only helps to cleanse your thoughts, but it also helps to clean the air!

6. Make sure your home, office, or car is appropriately ventilated.

Poor ventilation encourages contaminants to concentrate indoors, whereas proper ventilation provides a free flow of fresh air.

7. Do not smoke indoors.

Indoor smoking causes a buildup of smoke and hazardous compounds, which hurts indoor air quality. Smoke is linked to several cancer-causing compounds as well as other toxic elements that are harmful to human health. The greatest solution is to stop smoking because it improves your overall health. Smoking should, however, be prohibited indoors and in vehicles.

8. Get rid of odors; don’t ask them

The majority of individuals try to disguise indoor scents with artificial fragrances and air fresheners. It only exacerbates the situation because artificial fragrances and air fresheners contain VOCs and phthalates, both of which are harmful to your health. Instead, locate and eliminate the source of the odors, then clean the area with natural cleansers or baking soda.

9. Control critters

Food should be kept out of the house and cracks should be sealed to keep pests and insects out. Pesticides and other critter-killing chemicals will be less necessary as a result. It enhances indoor air quality by lowering toxic substances exposure from artificially created critter control items.

10. If feasible, remove the carpeting.

Carpets serve as a breeding ground for microscopic dust particles and pet dander, contributing to indoor air pollution. Carpet dust particles have been linked to chronic lung disorders like asthma and persistent coughs. Removing carpets is a surefire way to cut down on indoor pollution.

11. Take your shoes off at the door.

Shoes are known to bring in more dust, disease-causing bacteria, and outside pollutants. As a result, removing shoes at the entrance is one of the most straightforward strategies to reduce indoor air pollution. Mopping and moist dusting with water are recommended regularly.

12. Use air fresheners sparingly.

Most people enjoy perfumes, but they should be made from pure essential oils that do not pollute indoor air. Allergens in artificial air fresheners circulate in the interior air and have been linked to asthma and allergy problems. Choosing fragrance-free items at home helps to prevent indoor air pollution.

13. Make sure trash is covered.

Pests and insects are kept at bay by covering rubbish. It’s part of critter management, and it’ll help you avoid using pesticides and other artificial critter-killing chemicals. As a result, hazardous material emissions from artificially created critter management items will be reduced, lowering indoor air pollution.

Effects of Indoor Air Pollution – FAQs

What are the 4 major Indoor Air Pollutants

Excess moisture, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and radon are four main indoor air contaminants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. They make houses damp and stuffy. Indoor air is thus more hazardous than outdoor air.

How can we prevent air pollution?

These are the following actions which we can take to prevent air pollution. They include

  1. Use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.
  2. Try to conserve energy as much as you can.
  3. Keep your automobile, boat, and other engines tuned up.
  4. Check your tires for correct inflation.
  5. Whenever possible, use ecologically friendly paints and cleaning supplies.
  6. Mulch or compost yard trash and leaves.
  7. Instead of burning wood, consider using gas logs.
  8. Make a cleaner commute by carpooling or taking public transit.
  9. Combine errands to save time and money. When possible, walk to your errands.
  10. Keep your car from idling excessively.
  11. When it’s cooler, refuel your car in the evening.
  12. Use power sparingly and set air conditioners to 78 degrees.
  13. Postpone lawn and gardening jobs that require gasoline-powered equipment until later in the day.
  14. Decrease the number of car journeys you make.
  15. Reduce or eliminate the use of fireplaces and wood stoves.
  16. Do not burn leaves, rubbish, or other stuff.
  17. Avoid lawn and garden equipment that runs on gas.

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