Indoor Air Pollution is threatening our health day by day – and we don’t even notice it.
Cars, factories and other polluting sources are one of the main problems affecting our society, and one of the most visible ones. We are so used at thinking air pollution is only outside that we don’t realise it can be a threat also when we are at school, at work, even at home.
We spend the most of our time in indoor environments, where air pollution threatens our health as much - and even more - than outdoors. It is a massive problem that affects our daily lives and health, and we don’t even notice.
But, how bad air pollution really is?
The World Health Organization tells us that each year close to 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to household air pollution, which causes non communicable diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer, and there is evidence of links with low birth weight, tuberculosis, cataract, nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers. More generally, it is reported, pollutants in indoor smoke inflame the airways and lungs, impairing immune response and reducing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
Few of us are aware that the air inside our school classrooms, offices and homes can be up to five times more polluted and fuller of dangerous particulates than the outside, as indoor environments and high temperatures allow pollutants to concentrate in close spaces more than outside, and all the dangerous chemicals are trapped inside due to heating and non-updated air conditioning systems. The air turnover and the filter efficiency - in those rare instances where air purifiers are present - are often insufficient to maintain a good quality of indoor air, which can’t be purified from pollutants and is re-introduced in the environment.
Where does indoor air pollution come from?
In low-income countries – which hardly have access to clean fuels for cooking – indoor air pollution is caused by burning solid fuels sources, such as firewood, crop waste and dung, for cooking and heating. In our daily life these habits have been replaced with the access to clean fuels, but the problem of indoor air polluting is not little count.
The most of indoor air pollution comes from normal everyday products we personally bring inside our homes: common household items such as plastics and paint and that lovely moquette you inherited from your grandma product volatile pollutants; air fresheners contain ethylene; kitchen stoves emit nitrogen dioxide; and those cleaning products with which you think you make your home so clean daily release harmful chemicals.
Scientists proved beyond doubt that air quality affects intellectual performances: the indoor environmental conditions influence productivity up to 10%, with a particular significance on “tasks that require concentration, memory and original thought”. Moreover, recent studies show that in presence of a good quality of indoor air cognitive functions perform better across several domains and make us feel more relaxed and rested.
If you happen – and you happened, for sure – to have dizziness; headaches; throat, nose or eyes irritation; skin itchiness; coughing; eye-watering, you may suffer from a health effect associated with indoor air pollution. On the long run, the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous and endocrine system can be affected by exposure to indoor air pollutants. It may lead to infections and accelerated aging. But, as this issue causes also hearth or respiratory diseases and cancer, it’s worth being aware of the risks.
So, how can we fight indoor air pollution?
Despite all, it is not only possible, but easier than you think to improve indoor air quality inside your home; the most crucial thing being understaing how air pollution works and originates in order to minimize its possible sources.
Adding more plants, improving you ventilation, using more organic products or hrough the installation of air purifiers which collect and eliminate pollutants from the environment, and many risks for your health.
Without breaking a sweat, living in a better environment will improve your productivity, sleep and relax.
Don’t you think you deserve a healtier life at home? It can be so easy with the right ally.