Clear Relationship Between Indoor Air Pollution And Health
It is an unnerving and shocking reality that, according to the EPA, the air inside your home contains 2 to 5 times more pollutants than the air outsideyour home. 2 to 5 times more! This is not a happy thought. We spend a lot more time indoors than outdoors, and the air we are breathing can make us sick. Airborne allergens and particulates can cause respiratory problems, cause allergic reactions – even trigger asthma attacks. If you, or any members of your family has heath issues, a weakened immune system, or has frequent respiratory infections, the air in your home could very easily be the reason. The EPA estimates that we inhale about two tablespoons full of pollutants a day, and, since we spend more time inside that outside, most of that bad air comes from our own homes.
Some of the health issues connected to poor indoor air quality include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, fatigue, and headache and a frequent illnesses. If you are fortunate, the source of the exposure/irritant can be identified and removed (either physically or through mechanical means such as an air purifier). Depending on the age and general health of yourself or your family member, continued expose to indoor air pollution may lead to asthma, chronic lung infections or severe, even life-threating allergic reaction and a weakened immune system.
Per the EPA, even if your family is not exhibiting the typical symptoms associate with poor indoor air, it is still “prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home”.
There are so many things that cause indoor air pollution. Poor ventilation can allow mold and bacteria to grow. Furniture and common building materials can release harmful gasses over time (this is commonly referred to as “off gassing”).
Of course our beloved pets contribute their share in the form of hair and pet dander. Then we have dust, dust mites, and all the things what we bring home with us, like the new bug that is going around the office. Pollen, microbes and chemical pollutants can travel with us like unwelcomed hitchhikers, and recently, many parts of North America – and the rest of the world for that matter- have had to add smoke and toxic, hazardous air to the list.
If we have children, we send them to school to collect the latest germs to share. Poor air circulation can keep these pollutants, allergens and germs trapped in our homes. Without some kind of intervention, we just keep breathing and re-breathing this pollutants.
According to the EPA, it is important to pay attention to the times and places that the symptoms occur. If you, or someone in your family is experiencing an allergic reaction, and asthma attack, or other symptoms that would indicate a reaction to something in the home, try to make a note. If the symptom diminish when the person is away from the home - away from the pet - in a different room, then try to identify the source of the adverse reaction. Once you have done this, then you will be able to determine a plan of action and determine what actions you can take to improve your family’s health.
In some situations, you may need to have some allergy testing, but usually your own detective work will be sufficient. If your child starts sneezing when the air conditioner turns on, then you can make a reasonable assumption that the something associated with the air conditioner – or the air it is moving around - is causing the problem. If your house smells stale and moldy, then you may have a mold problem. And without adequate air circulation or air purification, your interior air quality will only get worse.
There are several ways you can improve your indoor air quality. If you have identified the source of the pollutants (your gas stove, for example, or the moldy hose on the dishwasher) then you can removethe source. This is also referred to as source control. If possible, removing the source of contamination is the least expensive option. However, it is not always practical. If you are renting, for example, and the appliances or furniture is not yours, then this option may not be available to you. And if the general quality of the air is the problem – if you are dealing with allergens or pollen – then changing the furniture or closing the blinds is not going to help.
Often getting more outside air into your home will help (unless the outside air is part of the problem). You can try natural ventilation (opening the doors and windows), mechanical devices (air conditioning, HVAC, air-intake systems) or you can hope that air seeps in through joints or around walls and windows . Once again, if the air outside contributes to the poor quality of the indoor air, then this would not be the best option for you or your family
An Air Purifier or Air Cleaner can be one of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality. The air purifier you chose will depend on your needs. Do you need a whole-house air purifier, or one that will sit beside your baby’s dresser in the nursery? Do you want something that will clear odors from the kitchen or the laundry room, or do you need clean the air of allergens and pollen?
The effectiveness of an air purifier will depend on the volume of air it can clean (how many cubic feet/minute) and the type of filter it has. True HEPA filters, in conjunction with a carbon filter or even an ion filter will trap and remove most microbes, allergens and pollutants from the air. These two features – air circulation and air filtration – work together to improve air quality. You will need to do your research to determine the best unit for your family. Choosing an air purifier that has good filters but insufficient air circulation will probably not be sufficient to adequately clean the air in your home. And a table-top unit is not going to be able to clean an entire house of pollen or other pollutants. Before purchasing an air purifier or air cleaner, you should do some research. A visit to the internet would be very prudent: take advantage of the research that other people have already done.
Personally, I have always been fascinated with home items. I’ve learned long ago that when buying these products, there needs to be a balance between functionality and creativity. Otherwise, they get old and boring, and I don’t get to use them as much.