Until a few years back, people did not really care about indoor air quality. Firstly, because it was taken for granted and secondly because they thought that the equipment that takes care of it is very costly. However, such misconceptions are now being put to rest. Buying costly equipment to clean indoor air is not the only option. There are numerous other things that you can do to make things better. Therefore it is now all the more important to understand how poor air quality can affect your health.
Most modern homes have the problem of indoor air pollution. Yet the homeowners are completely unaware of it. Indoor air pollution makes the indoor air unfit for breathing. Difficulty in breathing is just one way, which indicates poor air quality.
What Is Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air pollution is the decline of indoor air quality by toxic chemicals and other materials. It can take the form of chemical, physical, and biological adulteration of indoor air. Seldom do people know that indoor air pollution is ten times worse than outdoor pollution.so Consequently, most breathing troubles and allergic reactions can be traced back to some irritants present in the indoor air.
What Is Indoor Air Quality?
According to EPA or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Indoor Air Quality or the IAQ is the quality of air inside and around a building or structure. It is mainly studied in relation to the health and comfort of the occupants inside. According to EPA presently, indoor air pollution is amongst the top five environmental threats to public health.
Common Indoor Pollutants
There are many indoor pollutants, but the most common ones are:
1. Dust and dust mites
2. Pet dander
4. Second-hand smoke
5. VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds present in sprays like deodorant, room freshener, etc.
6. Pest droppings
Prominent Problems Caused By Poor Air Quality
The presence of contaminants in indoor air can have both quick effects as well as long-drawn-out ones. Amongst those symptoms that show themselves quickly, the prominent ones are:
1. Watery eyes
2. Runny nose or constant sneezing
3. Skin irritation
6. Increased bouts of Asthma or breathing trouble.
Those illnesses that take time to show themselves are:
1. Coronary illness
2. Respiratory ailments
How Poor Air Quality Affects The Health
Let us now study in detail how poor air quality affects our health.
1. Weak Heart – The work of the heart is to provide oxygenated blood to the entire body. When the air inside the home is bad, the heart is unable to get adequate oxygen. So, it has to work harder to support the body’s requirement for oxygen. As a result, it is constantly working overtime and under pressure. The result is that the heart muscles become weak, the arteries shrink, and the chances of heart troubles increase tenfold.
2. Asthma – Asthma is a respiratory disorder from which millions of people suffer worldwide. If we speak about the US alone, this number would be around 25 million. The pollutants in the indoor air act as irritants and trigger asthma bouts in people who already suffer from it. Sometimes these contaminants can also cause asthma in healthy people. The particles present in the air cause the swelling of the airways, which over time, becomes a chronic problem. If treatment for such a condition is not taken timely, it leads to Asthma.
3. Bronchitis – There are tubes that carry air from the esophagus to the lungs. These tubes are known as bronchi, and infection in them is known as bronchitis. Poor air quality often results in bronchitis, and in some cases, it even leads to chronic bronchitis. There are numerous bacteria present in the air that we breathe. Some of these bacteria weaken our pulmonary or respiratory system. Usually, the tendency to develop bronchitis is high in those areas that suffer big time from air pollution. Needless to say, even poor indoor air quality can have the same repercussions.
4. Pneumonia – An infection of the lungs wherein there is fluid buildup is called pneumonia. It is usually associated with a painful cough. In infants, elderly, and those with chronic breathing ailments, it can prove to be fatal. Pneumonia is caused by pathogens that are carried on the particulate matter like dust and dirt present in the air. The likelihood of developing pneumonia increases even with short-term exposure. You can well imagine the detrimental effect on your health when the exposure is prolonged and long-term. If indoor air quality is poor, the exposure is bound to be long-term.
5. Lung Cancer – Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer these days. Mostly it is caused by smoking. But surprisingly, it is not the tobacco that causes cancer in most cases, rather the tar and other pollutants present in the cigarette. In homes where even one person smokes, the others also do so passively and repeatedly with the air that circulates indoors. The buildup of these pollutants in the air keeps increasing in the absence of any checks, and the air quality keeps deteriorating. You can now well imagine the threat to the health of the entire family.
6. COPD – COPD is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder. It is an irreversible respiratory ailment that is characterized by limited air and shortness of breath. Many studies have successfully pointed out that COPD can also be caused by the poor quality of indoor air. It can also initiate and intensify the symptoms of COPD. Additionally, the immune system also becomes weak. In extreme cases, the patient may need hospitalization. All this because of poor indoor air quality.
Finally What To Do To Improve Indoor Air Quality
Here are some things that you can do to improve the indoor air quality:
1. Ensure the annual maintenance of your AC and furnace.
2. Change the air filters every month or at least once a quarter.
3. Maintain healthy humidity levels.
4. Invest in air purifying indoor plants.
5. Never smoke a cigarette indoors.
6. Use an air purifier if necessary.