Indoor air quality is a matter of concern in all homes. The effects of indoor air on health haven’t had the attention it deserves. Until recently, nobody even spared a thought to indoor air quality, not even considering that the indoors can get polluted. Pollution was always connected with outdoor air, the indoors were, apparently, more healthy.
How do the indoors get polluted?
All indoors can get polluted, giving rise to serious health hazards. Various studies suggest that the risks from poor quality indoor air can be substantially higher when compared with outdoor contamination. Pollutants in the indoor air can emanate from different sources, such as the fabric of buildings, combustion due to heating or fuel, and infiltration from outside, through water, air, or soil. Some indoor pollutants could be chemicals, living organisms like mold and pests, and gases.
House dust mites can be a major cause for indoor air pollution. These are usually found in bedding, carpet, and furniture. These thrive the most in coastal areas where the humidity is high.
Indoor air pollutants also include radioactive gas formed in the soil- radon – which is the leading cause of lung cancer among those who do not smoke. Radon can enter inside your house through cracks and openings in floors and walls in contact with the ground.
Another major cause is secondhand smoke that comes from burning tobacco or tobacco products. The smoke can cause serious respiratory illnesses and even cancer.
Space heaters, woodstoves, water heaters, gas stoves, dryers, and fireplaces in homes can also be a major source of air pollution. The amount of pollutants that can be produced from these appliances depends on the type and installation of the appliance. Maintenance of the appliance also plays a major role in release of pollutants in the indoor air.
The indoor may be polluted with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are chemicals often found in paints and paint strippers, lacquers, cleaning supplies, varnishes, pesticides, office equipment, and repellents. Some air fresheners and dry-cleaned clothing can also be a source of VOC.
Volatile organic compounds irritate the eyes, nose and throat, and cause headaches, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. Some of them can cause cancer.
How can you improve your indoor air quality?
Cleanliness – the magic word to control indoor air pollution.
Careful inspection of the building to look for the presence of damp or moist surfaces and any visible moulds is the first step. Sampling the surfaces with sterile swabs where you suspect that moisture or mould could be present is another step that with help in determining the presence of fungal and microorganisms.
Controlling the different sources of pollution is the most effective way to improve indoor air quality.
Increasing the ventilation of the house and bringing in fresh air will help in reducing indoor pollutants. Whenever the weather permits, keep your windows and doors open. You can also run the air conditioner keeping the vent control open. Having exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens that will flush the air outdoors will also increase the ventilation and reduce indoor pollutants.
Clean the air filters of your air conditioners regularly. If required, change them regularly they are clean and no dust is trapped within.
Adjusting the indoor humidity can also decrease indoor air pollutants. High humidity increase the moisture in the air and the dampness will increase the cultivation of mold. The best way to do this is to maintain the indoor humidity between 30 and 50%. You could use a moisture or humidity gauge, to check the indoor air humidity.
These are some steps you could follow to maintain healthy indoor air quality in your homes.